Qualcomm S4 chip renders Ice Cream Sandwich 'butter smooth'

Newest Snapdragon chip ups the ante on dual-core phones running Android 4.0, crushing Samsung's Galaxy S II on some key benchmarks.

Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 turns in some pretty impressive benchmark numbers.
Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 turns in some pretty impressive benchmark numbers. Qualcomm

Qualcomm's Snapdragon S4 chip is racking up benchmark numbers that make the Samsung Galaxy S II's performance seem so last-year while turning Ice Cream Sandwich into a dreamy experience, said a chip review site.

"Occasionally we'll see performance numbers that just make us laugh at their absurdity," said Anandtech. "[Snapdragon S4's] Linpack performance is no exception. The performance advantage here is insane. The MSM8960 is able to deliver more than twice the performance of any currently shipping SoC (system-on-a-chip)."

Thanks to a 28-nanometer process, Qualcomm packs a lot on one chip: two S4 'Krait' cores, an LTE '4G' modem, updated Adreno 225 GPU, 1MB L2 cache, and other specialized accelerators.
Thanks to a 28-nanometer process, Qualcomm packs a lot on one chip: two S4 'Krait' cores, an LTE '4G' modem, updated Adreno 225 GPU, 1MB L2 cache, and other specialized accelerators. Qualcomm
The S4's Linpack 'performance advantage here is insane,' said Anandtech.
The S4's Linpack 'performance advantage here is insane,' said Anandtech. Anandtech

And what about that Adreno graphics processing unit? "From a compute standpoint however, Adreno 225 looks identical to Adreno 220. The big difference is...the [S4's 28 nanometer] manufacturing process...Adreno 225 can now run at up to 400MHz compared to 266MHz in Adreno 220 designs," Anandtech said.

Coupled with the dual-channel memory, a 50 percent increase in GPU clock speed adds up to a sizable advantage over the previous Snapdragon's graphics engine, Anandtech said.

Not everything about the GPU is competition-crushing, however, Apple's A5 GPU is still faster at higher resolutions, according to Anandtech.

But all can be forgiven when it delivers the snappiest performance yet on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.

"The [S4] is the absolute fastest we've seen Ice Cream Sandwich thus far...the UI is absolutely butter smooth everywhere, and web browsing in either Chrome or the stock Android Browser is also the smoothest we've seen it. There's no stutter bringing up the application switcher, or taking screenshots, two places that 4.0.3 still drops frames on the Galaxy Nexus," said Anandtech.

And don't be surprised if more than a few phones are announced next week at Mobile World Congress with the S4. All the more reason to find out what chip is inside before making that next smartphone purchase.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.

 

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