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.

Money to your ears - A great FREE investing resource for you

The best way to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as “binge-worthy finance.”

Feb 1, 2016 at 5:03PM

Whether we're in the midst of earnings season or riding out the market's lulls, you want to know the best strategies for your money.

And you'll want to go beyond the hype of screaming TV personalities, fear-mongering ads, and "analysis" from people who might have your email address ... but no track record of success.

In short, you want a voice of reason you can count on.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich," rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

And one of the easiest, most enjoyable, most valuable ways to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as "binge-worthy finance."

Whether you make it part of your daily commute or you save up and listen to a handful of episodes for your 50-mile bike rides or long soaks in a bubble bath (or both!), the podcasts make sense of your money.

And unlike so many who want to make the subjects of personal finance and investing complicated and scary, our podcasts are clear, insightful, and (yes, it's true) fun.

Our free suite of podcasts

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. The show is also heard weekly on dozens of radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers are timeless, so it's worth going back to and listening from the very start; the other three are focused more on today's events, so listen to the most recent first.

All are available for free at www.fool.com/podcasts.

If you're looking for a friendly voice ... with great advice on how to make the most of your money ... from a business with a lengthy track record of success ... in clear, compelling language ... I encourage you to give a listen to our free podcasts.

Head to www.fool.com/podcasts, give them a spin, and you can subscribe there (at iTunes, Stitcher, or our other partners) if you want to receive them regularly.

It's money to your ears.


Compare Brokers