Qualcomm is the perhaps most interesting ARM processor maker. The key to its success has been its own ARM architectures where Qualcomm has now detailed its latest creation, 28nm Krait. With a fresh architecture and new node Snapdragon S4 is expected to set the standard among ARM contenders.

During Qualcomm Innovation in Istanbul earlier this Fall, Christiano Amon, VP of product development at QCT (Qualcomm CMDA Technolgies), revealed that it will be first to market with an ARM processor made with 28nm technology. It will be the Krait architecture and circuits will appear in smartphones and tablets under the name Snapdragon S4.

Qualcomm has released the white papers for Snapdragon S4 and Krait architecture where it has detailed what we can expect from the new circuits that will appear in 2012.

At Anandtech they have done a good job at working through the papers and explained what makes Krait different from current circuits, but there are a couple of bullet points to focus on.


  • Whole new architecture with Qualcomm’s Scorpion that is used in Snapdragon S3 (MSM8260) with up to 60% better CPU performance.
  • Krait and Snapdragon S4 will be the first ARM circuits made with 28nm technology and clock frequencies will start at 1.5 GHz, but scale as high as 2.5 GHz. 25-40% more energy efficient.
  • Start with dual processor cores, but can scale up to four.
  • Dual memory channels
  • Snapdragon S4 MSM8960 will be first with an integrated modem that supports both 3G and 4G (LTE) networks up to 100 Mbps and 20-30% lower energy consumption.
  • Adreno 225 GPU with 50% higher computational power (over Adreno 220 in MSM8260) that also supports DirectX 9.3.
  • Full support for Windows 8, especially with improvements on the GPU side.
  • Integrated support for Bluetooth 4.0, GPS (GPS and GLONASS at the same time) and 802.11n WiFi.
  • The first products with Snapdragon S4 is expected to appear in Q2 2012, in both smartphones and tablets.

Qualcomm has been telling the press about the great advantages with its own processor architecture and even if it builds on the same ARM license that other manufacturers its gets a unique product built after its own needs and requirements.

Qualcomm’s Scorpion architecture is getting harder and harder to compete with the new generation of Cortex-A9 processors, but its Krait architecture with Snapdragon S4 should raise the level of performance up high. With its promised performance wins Snapdragon S4 should perform better than Intel Atom, at least with the architecture Intel uses today. This while consuming less energy.

krait.archBlock diagram over MSM8960 and advantages of a more efficient 28nm technology.

Besides the impressive performance it is the high grade of integration and energy efficiency that catches our interest. Those who wants to read more about the Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 and Krait architectyre the white papers can be found here.


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George Beard Recent comment authors
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George Beard

The Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 and Krait architectyre the white papers can NOT be found here http://www.qualcomm.com/documents/snapdragon-s4-architecture