At a Qualcomm press event held in Istanbul, the company outlined their future S4 class of processors that’ll end up in devices shipping in 2012. First and foremost, compared to the current 45 nanometer S3 class (seriously Qualcomm, these names stink!) of processors, the S4 chips will be built on a 28 nanometer process, meaning they’ll suck up less power, which translates to longer battery life. Second, they’ll be available in single, dual, and quad core configurations, with each core being able to scale up to 2.5 GHz. That’s ridiculously fast, and because hardware vendors can opt for a lower number of cores, they can make a portfolio of devices that span multiple price points and screen sizes. Third, the graphics chip in these S4 processor will be “next generation”, so we don’t have any specifics as to how fast it’ll be. What we do know however is that manufacturers will be able to pack up to four of these graphics processors on a chip, meaning some incredible performance in games. And finally, these chips will support both 3G and LTE, natively. We don’t know the specifics, but chances are we’re talking full 42 Mbps HSPA+ support and at least 100 Mbps LTE support.
Now Qualcomm doesn’t work in a bubble. They’re going to face some extreme competition. NVIDIA has been eating their lunch by being the supplier of choice for chips that power Android tablets. Forget for a moment how badly said tablets are selling. With “Grey”, the codename NVIDIA has given to their chip that combines cellular connectivity with a Tegra processor, they have a chance to steal a significant portion of Qualcomm’s business. Then there’s Samsung, who with Exynos have proven that they’re incredibly competent when it comes to chip design. Their latest agreement with DoCoMo also shows that they want to enter the baseband space so they can compete with the best of them.
There’s also Intel … wait, we take that back.