Qualcomm’s got a new hardware platform coming sometime in Q2 of this year called the S4. It’s going to show up in a lot of Android smartphones, so we were delighted when the folks at AnandTech published their early benchmarks of the new chip earlier this morning. Before we get to the numbers, let’s talk about what’s different between an S3 Qualcomm Snapdragon and an S4 Qualcomm Snapdragon. First up is size, the S3 is built on a 45 nanometer process, whereas the S4 uses a 28 nanometer process. Smaller transistors translates to smaller chips which can be clocked higher since they put out less heat. Second, the processor cores in the S4 use a totally new architecture called “Krait”, whereas the S3 used “Scorpion” cores. Think of the difference between “Scorpion” and “Krait” like the difference between ARM’s Cortex A8 and Cortex A9. Third, “Krait” now supports dual channel memory, which decreases latency and just makes everything zippier in general. Fourth, the S4 Snapdragon supports a huge range of wireless standards, which sadly couldn’t be tested, but we’re sure those numbers will come sooner rather than later. And finally fifth, S4 ships with a new Adreno 225 GPU, which is basically the Adreno 220 we all know and love, but with Direct3D 9_3 support. Thanks to the 28 nanometer shrink however, the Adreno 225 will be running at 400 MHz, whereas the Adreno 220 never saw clock speeds above 266 MHz.
So how fast is an S4? At 1.5 GHz it’s between 20% to 35% faster than the 1.2 GHz Texas Instruments OMAP4460 inside the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. That’s not really saying much since 1.5 GHz is 25% faster than 1.2 GHz, but where things start to get crazy is when you look at GPU performance. In some benchmarks the S4 beats everything on the market, including the iPhone 4S. In other benchmarks the S4 gets beaten by the ARM Mali 400 inside the Samsung Galaxy S II. On average though, it’s ludicrously fast.
All we know is this, the S4 represents the next generation of Android devices, and these early benchmarks show that it’s going to be quite a screamer compared to everything we’re already familiar with.