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With Snapdragon 810, Qualcomm beats Intel, AMD in mobile/tablet space

Intel has always been held up as the maker of the most powerful processors, but with yesterday’s announcement that nearly 60 phones with the Snapdragon 810 processor are in the works, the Chipzilla has lost the status in the mobile world.

According to a statement from Qualcomm yesterday, Motorola, Oppo, Sony, Nokia, LG and Xiaomi are among the companies that are working on phones with the Snapdragon 810 chips in them. At present, only the Xiaomi Mi Note Pro and LG Flex2 have been officially announced.

Delays related to production have been blamed for the delayed launch of the Snapdragon 810 platform.

“New devices based on Snapdragon 810 include the LG G Flex2 and the Xiaomi Mi Note Pro, with many more expected in the coming weeks and months,” Qualcomm said.

Snapdragon 810 is more than just another high-end chipset for Qualcomm. For the US-based chipmaker and chip designer ARM, the 810 era will arguably the first time when they will have more powerful chips than Intel in mobile phone/tablet market.

So far, their key selling point had always been low power consumption.

But if the latest benchmarking results are anything to go by, they have now stolen the lead over Intel in raw power as well. And it’s not just in mobile and tablets either, the Snapdragon 810 will be more powerful than many desktop-class Pentium and Celeron processors currently being sold by Intel as well.

Of course, Intel is likely to bounce back into the reckoning in March/April when its Cherry Trail based mobile and tablet chips starts showing up in actual products.

According to Geekbench, one of the few cross-platform benchmarking services, Intel’s most powerful offering in the mobile/tablet space at present — the $40 Z3795 — scores a maximum of 1066 in single-core mode and 3,303 in all-core mode.

The score is not too bad, and is comparable to what you would have got from a mainstream desktop processor four or five years ago. It is also more powerful than most of the entry level laptops being sold in India.

For example, the AMD A4-5000 processor, found on mainstream laptops like Lenovo G505 (price Rs 28,800), scores around 1,000 in single core mode and 2,900 in quad-core mode on Geekbench.

In other words, Intel’s Z3795 is not exactly a low-power device, and less powerful 3xxx series bay trail chips are now being sold in the market inside entry-level desktops, laptops and mid-range tablets.

The Snapdragon 810, however, leaves these scores behind. According to Geekbench, HTC’s upcoming Snapdragon 810-based phone 0PJA10 scored 1313 on single core mode and 3899 on all-core mode.

HTC-Snapdragon-810

That is enough power to cater to any basic PC user. In other words, the chip would have enough power for PC-based browsing, video, word-processing and other needs.

The reason has to do with two things – the gradual rise in power in ARM chips, and the switch to the 64-bit platform.

The Snapdragon 810 is the first high-end platform with 64-bit computing enabled.

This will impact both Intel and AMD. The impact on AMD may be more severe as ARM-based processors (not exactly from Qualcomm) also cost roughly in the range of AMD processors. In addition, ARM-based processors use only 10% or so of the power that entry-level AMD processors use.

Of course, AMD is hedging its risk by also playing in the ARM-based processor space. We will have to see how that plays out ultimately.

As far as Intel is concerned, the company will have to deal with a situation where a powerful competitor has caught up with it in power — its forte.

Of course, Intel doesn’t have to worry a lot, as it has reportedly already started shipping its successor to the Bay Trail platform – Cherry Trail.

Cherry Trail chips should even out whatever difference was there between Intel’s chips and ARM chips on practical power consumption, while also bumping peformance levels a little bit. The problem, however, is that Cherry Trail chips as yet exist only in announcements and press releases. Benchmarks are yet to come by. Until they do, it’s advantage Qualcomm, and ARM.

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