Friday, January 11, 2013

New Mobile Chips at CES 2013

The mobile chip wars are heating up. The competition is so though, Texas Instruments sadly has decided to drop out of the race. Notably, Texas Instruments has facilities in Angeles City and Baguio City, so I was kind of pulling for this chipset manufacturer to stay in the game.  Anyway, unto the new chips.

The biggest name in chips right now is Qualcomm. Qualcomm is placing it renaming its new chips  the Snapdragon 200, 400, 600, and 800. This is a more rational naming system which should make it easier for consumers to identify which is the faster chip. The are not too many details on the lower end chips, but I expect the Qualcomm S4 Play to be replaced by a more powerful Snapdragon 200 in the second half of this year. The Qualcomm S3 and S4 Plus will probably be replaced by the S400 series chips 

The Qualcomm S4 Pro is currently the fastest mobile chip on the planet and features System-on-Chip (SoC) LTE. It is what is used in the LG Optimus G, Google Nexus 4, HTC Butterfly and Sony Xperia Z. The S4 Pro will be replaced by the  Snapdragon 600.  The S600 will get a speed bump in processor speed and take advantage of faster 667 or 800 MHz memory pipeline as compared to the current 533 MHz speed. Qualcomm promises the new chip is 40% faster than the current Qualcomm S4 Pro.

The top of the line is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 will replace the S4 Prime, which we have no seen on any device yet. With these four chip families Qualcomm plans to offer something at every price point.

NovaThor, whose dual core chips we have seen in several mid-level device this year, has a new quad core variant, The new NovaThor L8580 uses a older quad core ARM Cortex A9 processor. So I expect this chip to be used in mid-level handsets. The most interesting aspect of this chip is that it has SoC LTE. This will most likely compete with Qualcomm S400 chips.

Nvidia has upgraded their Tegra 3, with the Tegra 4. The Tegra 4 moves to to four ARM Cortex A15 cores, built on 28 nanometer technology from four ARM Cortex A15 cores, built on 40 nanometer technology from. Like with the Tegra 3, a fifth power saving core is used for low powered tasks.  The graphics chip is getting a big speed boost, with a new 72 core graphics chip which Nvidia promises to be 6 time faster than the current chip. The Tegra 4 will compete against Qualcomm S600 and S800 chips. LTE connectivity is via a Icera softmodem, which probably wont be as frugal as a SoC solution.

Samsung, well they have their Octacore. Samsungs Octacore use four ARM Cortex A15 for heavy work, with four ARM Cortex A7 for light work. The production process is also being move from the 32 nanometer process to the 28 nanometer process. This is what you will see on the Samsung Galaxy S IV and the Galaxy Note III. I have no word on whether this will include SoC LTE.

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