Snapdragon S4 Processor: Coolest Kid on the Block

The Snapdragon™ S4 processor is incredibly cool. I mean that literally.

Today’s high-end smartphones and tablets are capable of doing many intensive computing tasks, such as 3D gaming, shooting HD video and editing photos. The more demanding these tasks are, the greater the need for a high performance processor. However, depending on the processor architecture, high performance can come at a price. Some processors generate a lot of heat, which compromises both performance and reliability. Snapdragon processors are fully integrated system on chips, which are specially designed to keep their cool. For today’s high-performance mobile devices, having better thermal efficiency or “better thermals” is more important than ever.

The Snapdragon S4 processor1 has several advantages when it comes to thermals. First, it’s currently the only mobile processor built using a 28nm process, compared to 45nm and 32nm for most others. Smaller process translates directly into better power and thermal profiles. Second, Qualcomm custom designed the S4 architecture specifically for mobile devices, meaning the entire processor is optimized for low power including the CPU, GPU, DSP, the industry’s only 4G LTE Multimode Cellular Modem and WiFi. Third, Snapdragon processors are custom tuned across the entire system on a chip with software optimizations that further boost thermal efficiency while maximizing performance.

Additionally, Qualcomm is currently the only company in the mobile semiconductor industry to implement asynchronous SMP or aSMP, which allows the CPU cores within the Snapdragon S4 processor to throttle independently up or down depending on the performance needed. This allows S4 processors to dynamically power up for high performance or down to very low power usage and even completely off when not needed. No other mobile semiconductor company offers this type of power/performance control.

The picture below demonstrates the thermal advantage of the Snapdragon S4 processor with dual-core CPUs over other dual-core rivals. We used the Dhrystone benchmark because it targets and maxes out both CPU cores to their highest operating frequency, creating the highest possible thermal load for the device. As you can see in the picture farthest to the right, while after 20 minutes the competitive devices were glowing red (indicating that they were getting very hot), the S4 maintained a comfortable temperature range throughout. This is important because if the temperature inside the device gets too high, the performance will throttle back to stop the device from overheating. If you’ve ever experienced a phone slowing down while watching an HD movie, it could well have been due to a thermal trip point being triggered, so you’re going to really appreciate the S4’s thermal-friendly design.

If all this technical jargon isn’t convincing enough, perhaps our thermals advantage can be better explained with butter. Check out the video:

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