qualcomm snapdragon s4 pro preview 01 640x358We’re attending a Qualcomm event in which we had the opportunity to get our hands on the quad-core SnapDragon S4 Pro (APQ8064) development platform. If you’re not familiar with the new chip, the stated goal of Qualcomm is to come up with a high-performance “all-day” mobile computing platform. To increase the speed, Qualcomm is using a quad-core architecture and a new Adreno 320 graphics processor – all in the same chip die.

The tablet itself has pretty much everything that the platform can support: stereo surround sound, multiple microphones, all the sensors that we may expect, including pressure, temperature and fingerprint reader. There is 1GB of RAM and 16GB of local storage (+ microSD slot). The development tablet has just launched and is available from BSquare, the company that usually manufacture the development kits for Qualcomm ($1299). Although this is a quality product, it is not meant as a “sexy” consumer device – it’s really a hardware that is meant to mostly sit on a developer desk, so don’t assume that actual products will look like this.

Performance

Antutu is an overall system performance benchmark (CPU, graphics, storage), and what it shows is that overall, most recent phones land in a comparable performance footprint. This means that unless you do something very specific (like “gaming” or “downloads”), those phones should provide a similar overall performance.

snapdragon s4 pro antutuThe Antutu number tops the chart. As you may know, Antutu has been very good to quad-core chips as of late, and this time, Qualcomm takes the lead over NVIDIA and its Tegra 3 chip which has been dominating the high-end tablet market so far. In terms of floating-point performance, Qualcomm should easily win every benchmarks as it was always leading with its dual-core solution.

SunSpider is a Javascript test that mostly measures how good the Javascript engine is. Performance jump of 100% have been witnessed after software updates, so keep in mind that this may not be a great CPU test. It also uses a single-core, so it won’t be able to differentiate much between single and multicore architectures. Also, please don’t consider it to be a “web performance” test, because it is not. Most of the perceived web performance is felt during the load time and rendering time, both of which often have nothing to do with Javascript performance.

snapdragon s4 pro sunspiderAs you can see, the Snapdragon S4 Pro devkit does really well here, and it is only second to the Intel Medfield chip. Keep in mind that SunSpider runs on top of a Java virtual Machine and that this is a single-core process. This provides an indirect CPU performance indication but so far Intel has been leaps and bound better than anyone else in terms of single-core CPU performance – today, a little less so.

We’ve dropped Nenamark 2 as a graphics benchmark because it was limited by the display speed (60FPS) on this particular system. In previous reviews, we mentioned that this benchmark was near its end of life, but unless we use a much higher resolution (1080p+), there’s not much that can be done with this one. Instead, we’ve used GLBenchmark Pro 2.1 which has an “offscreen” rendering option which is not limited by the vertical sync (V-sync). To be honest we don’t like this one much, but that’s the only one that works for now. We can’t wait to see the in-game benchmarks or the new OpenGL ES 3.0 benchmarks from 3rd parties.

snapdragon s4 pro glbenchma

Snapdragon S4 Pro doesn’t win this one and the iPad Gen 3 (new iPad) manages to full pretty far ahead. The LG LS970 device is an unreleased handset, so while we can’t confirm anything, it is rumored to run with a Snapdragon SoC, so this would explain why it is so close from this devkit here. Unfortunately, I dont have any Tegra 3 device with me right now, but we may come back to this later.

Perceived performance

“Perceived performance”: Synthetic benchmarks can only carry us so far. What they don’t show for example is the user experience is smooth and responsive (responsiveness is not always solved with brute-force processor power). In the end, what good is raw performance if you can’t perceive it?

Devkit configuration

Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core 1.5GHz with Adreno 320 graphics
10.1″ display 1366×768
1GB of RAM
16GB of storage + microSD slot
13 Megapixel back camera
Android 4.04 (Ice Cream Sandwich)

 

Filed in Tablets . Tags: developers, qualcomm and snapdragon.
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