Why Qualcomm's New Chip Looks Great

Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 810 looks like an extremely competitive mobile chip ready to own the high end for yet another year.

Apr 20, 2014 at 9:30AM

Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) is the world's leading mobile processor vendor. As a result of extremely solid execution, the company has continued to solidify its leadership position in mobile products. Over the past several months, the company has been rolling out a 64-bit mobile chip stack, beginning with the low end, topped off most recently by a high-end pair of products -- the Snapdragon 808 and Snapdragon 810 processors.

Let's talk Snapdragon 810
The Snapdragon 810 features the following:

  • Four ARM Holdings (NASDAQ:ARMH) Cortex A57 cores running at a maximum frequency of 2GHz and four ARM Cortex A53 cores in a big.LITTLE configuration.
  • Adreno 430 GPU.
  • Integrated 4G LTE-Advanced Cat. 6 modem.
  • Dual Image Signal Processors (enabling up to 55 megapixel camera support).
  • LPDDR4 support (25.6 GB/s memory bandwidth).

This is a thoroughly high-end system on a chip that should offer some pretty fantastic performance. Indeed, given that ARM's Cortex A57 offers roughly 30% higher performance per clock over the prior ARM Cortex A15 core (meaning that a 2GHz A57 should be about as fast as a 2.6GHz Cortex A15), this should be a pretty substantial uplift from the prior-generation Krait 400 found inside the Snapdragon 800/801.

To put this in perspective, a 1.9 GHz Cortex A15 Exynos 5 Octa performs roughly the same as a 2.26 GHz Krait 400 found in the Snapdragon 800. This implies that, at peak single-core performance, the Snapdragon 810 should offer about 37% greater single-threaded performance from the prior-generation Snapdragon 800.

A big graphics boost and a shiny new modem
According to Qualcomm, the next-generation Adreno 430 inside the Snapdragon 810 offers up to 30% more performance than the prior Adreno 420, which itself offers up to 40% more performance than the Snapdragon 800/801 GPU found in top-shelf phones like the Samsung (NASDAQOTH: SSNLF) Galaxy S5. This means about 80% greater performance than the best Snapdragon 800/801 chips available today.

The new chip also integrates a next-generation LTE-Advanced category 6 modem, improving download speeds to 300 megabits per second. That's about twice the theoretical performance of the modem block found in the Snapdragon 800/801. This should be the most advanced modem in any shipping system on a chip at the time.

What will the competition be?
There is likely to only be one other 20-nanometer system on a chip shipping in volume, and that'll be Apple's next-generation "A" series processor. The rest of the ARM players are likely to be on the 28-nanometer node. Intel will be shipping its 22-nanometer Moorefield system-on-chip, but it won't integrate a baseband. Further, Moorefield's graphics engine is likely to be slower than that found in the 810.

In tablets, the competition is more robust. Intel's (NASDAQ:INTC) Cherry Trail (14-nanometer, new CPU and GPU architecture) should be quite competitive for performance tablets, as should NVIDIA's (NASDAQ:NVDA) Tegra K1 and successors. Qualcomm still has the integration advantage with its parts here, but in high-end tablets this isn't as big of a deal as it is in handsets and low-end tablets.

Foolish bottom line
Qualcomm's next-generation system-on-a-chip products -- in particular the high-end Snapdragon 810 -- look extremely competitive. While there are higher-end chips coming later in 2015 to compete with Qualcomm in phones, Qualcomm should have an easy time winning the major hero devices during the first half of 2015 (think the Galaxy S6, the HTC One successor, the LG G4, and so on). The battle at the high end doesn't look like it gets interesting until late 2015 or early 2016. 

The biggest thing to come out of Silicon Valley in years
If you thought the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad were amazing, just wait until you see this. One hundred of Apple's top engineers are busy building one in a secret lab. And an ABI Research report predicts 485 million of them could be sold over the next decade. But you can invest in it right now, for just a fraction of the price of Apple stock. Click here to get the full story in this eye-opening new report.

Ashraf Eassa owns shares of Intel and NVIDIA. The Motley Fool recommends Apple, Intel, and NVIDIA and owns shares of Apple, Intel, and Qualcomm. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out Warren Buffett recently told a select number of investors about the cutting-edge technology that's keeping him awake at night.

This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.
The catch was: Attendees weren't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video. 

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

That's how Buffett responded when asked about this emerging market that is already expected to be worth more than $2 trillion in the U.S. alone. Google has already put some of its best engineers behind the technology powering this trend. 

The amazing thing is, while Buffett may be nervous, the rest of us can invest in this new industry BEFORE the old money realizes what hit them.

KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

Think about how many amazing technologies you've watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, "I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands." 

Don't let that happen again. This time, it should be your family telling you, "I can't believe you knew about and invested in that technology so early on."

That's why I hope you take just a few minutes to access the exclusive research our team of analysts has put together on this industry and the one stock positioned to capitalize on this major shift.

Click here to learn about this incredible technology before Buffett stops being scared and starts buying!

David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

©1995-2014 The Motley Fool. All rights reserved. | Privacy/Legal Information