LAS VEGAS: It's not easy to follow in the footsteps of Windows and Xbox, but that's exactly what Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 chip was tasked with doing in the first ever non-Microsoft CES opening keynote.
The mobile chip was the headlining announcement in the headlining address of the biggest technology conference of the year. With that billing comes high expectations. Does the Snapdragon 800 measure up?
The first versions of the 800 series, which will be aimed at the tablet sector, are only available in prototype devices. The first OEM models equipped with the hardware are still some months away and will likely only arrive in full force towards the end of the year.
Qualcomm has made a point of playing up the muscle behind Snapdragon. The company loves to show its complex images rendered as wireframe to underscore just how much processing power is being put into each of its demonstration scenes.
The Snapdragon 800 will largely target the gaming market in its earliest incarnations. However, where high-end gaming is found, creative professionals and other high-demand business users are not far behind. The chip offers console-quality graphics and high frame rates, while controls were fluid and responsive, even for a prototype.
Along with more processing power, Snapdragon 800 chips will feature brand new power management tools. The above meters show the chip regulating its power intake by completely turning off unused processor cores and regulating the activity of the GPU as needed.
BERLIN: Qualcomm's developer tablet was on show at the company's IQ 2012 Berlin event on Monday.
V3 took the chance to test the Qualcomm developer tablet's Snapdragon processor against the Exynos quad-core chip used in Samsung's popular Galaxy Note 10.1.
On paper, the Note and Qualcomm development tablet are incredibly similar. Both devices run Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and house 10.1in screens.
Additionally, both the Note and the development tablet feature processors made by their parent companies. Specifically, the Note 10.1 features a Samsung-made 1.4GHz quad-core Exynos 4412 processor, while Qualcomm's development model packs a 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro.
This means comparing the two should be fair, with both featuring custom designed components.
To start its comparison, V3 tested both the Note and the development tablet using the Antutu and Quadrant benchmarking apps. On both occasions Qualcomm's Snapdragon S4 Pro demo unit came out on top.
Qualcomm's Snapdragon demo unit scored an impressive 138,888 on Antutu; the Note by comparison scored a still impressive 12,578.
With Quadrant's CPU, I/O and 3D graphics benchmark, the Qualcomm tablet scored 7,639, while Samsung's Galaxy Note tablet scored a less impressive 5,261.
This means that on paper the Qualcomm developer tablet is on paper one of the fastest we've ever seen, easily trumping most, if not all of the top end tablets currently available.
Interestingly though this increased power doesn't translate into a better user experience on Qualcomm's demo unit.
The Qualcomm tablet is by its nature a demo product and as such doesn't feature the same polished feel the Note does. The Snapdragon tablet's WXGA display is significantly less responsive than the Note's and doing basic things like navigating the display is cumbersome.
Additionally, the Qualcomm demo unit's 13MP camera didn't really live up to our expectations. While photos taken using the unit looked reasonable, they weren't as detailed as we'd expect. We're thinking this is due to a software oversight that stops the tablet taking full advantage of its 13MP sensor.
While these oversights can be forgiven on a demo unit, they would be unforgivable on a product released for purchase to the general public. Hopefully though these problems will be fixed by other manufacturers hoping to release products using the Snapdragon S4 Pro, letting the impressive processor really show off what it can do.
Check back with V3 later for further coverage of Qualcomm's IQ 2012 event.