Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Krait based SoC details unveiled

Those of you following closely the SoC market will be happy to learn that Qualcomm has finally unveiled technical details of its much anticipated SnapDragon S4 Krait based SoC yesterday in a relatively in-depth white paper that everyone can download. Krait based SoC are in track to hit the market in the first half of 2012 with the first MSM8960 dual 1.5Ghz core SoC later followed by the MSM8930, MSM8228 and MSM8974. I posted the full specifications back in July here but Qualcomm’s legal department laid the ban hammer on me and asked me to take down the full pdf. Anyway, here’s what you can expect from the first  28nm mobile SoC (using TSMC’s 28nm LP process) to hit the market which will also so be Windows 8 compliant thanks to it’s DirectX 9.3 support:

• Dual 1.5-1.7 GHz Krait/ L2 1MB
• 2x500MHz LPDDR2
• LTE FDD/TDD cat3(8960); DC-HSPA(8270) 21HSPA+(8260A) TD-SCDMA (8960, 8260A)
• 1080p HD Video@30fps; 3D 20Mpix
• Adreno 225 3D/2D 125M tri./sec (DX9.3)

The Krait CPU architecture is Qualcomm’s own variant of the AMR Cortex A8 but so heavily tweaked and changed that it can’t really be comparable to other competing Cortex A9 or future A15 CPUs. In terms of raw performances it’s will most probably be competitive with the A9 chipsets (if not better) but may lag a bit behind the upcoming higher clocked Cortex A15 SoCs which will come out in late 2012. Krait’s powers efficiency will probably help it in this case but this has yet to be seen. The big advantage that Qualcomm has is its time to market compared to all the new generation chipsets for its competitors which for the most part will all be using bigger processes (40nm or 35nm, only the the TI OMAP will be on 28nm). Because of this, we may have another QSD8250 situation next year where most of the Android handsets will be based on this chipset simply because it will be out at the right time (more than 6 months ahead of its most direct competition).


Here’s the MSM8960 block diagram:

In terms of GPU horse power the Snapdragon S4 MSM8960 will include an Adreno 225 which is simply a slightly upgraded version of the Andre 220 (which is also just a update of the Adreno 205 and Adreno 200). To be Windows 8 and DirectX 9.3 compliant the GPU now supports the following

• Increased unified shader flexibility and capability
• Improved texture engines with support for sRGB textures
• Enhanced rasterization hardware with support for multiple render targets, user clip planes, instancing and other advanced features improved blt and interruptperformance


Qualcomm expect it to be 50% more powerful than the current Adreno 220. We will unfortunately have to wait for the Adreno 3XX GPU which will be introduced in the MSM8930 to see a bigger leap in performance (it will be a brand new architecture). Qualcomm is also promising new improved drivers that should help it’s GPU performance against competing SoCs based on NVIDIA Tegra and Imagination’s Power SX GPUs. I highly recommend you download the whitepaper from here for a lot more detail on the Snapdragon S4.

You can expect HTC’s future high-end Android handsets to be powered by a Snapdragon S4 and also some of the first Windows 8 tablets later next year. It should also be safe to assume that Microsoft will probably look at certify it for Windows Phone 8 (if it decides to totally skip the Snapdragon S3 gen).

  • Anonymous

    What about giving some credit to the awesome guys at anandtech?

  • EM

    Krait actually looks like a cross between the Cortex A9 and the A15. The Scorpion was the Cortex A8 custom. 

  • Bogdan

    I have snapdragon with adreno205 and runs flowless hd content and games. can`t wait for  krait