OnQ Blog

Smartphone Processors: Quality Cores, Not More Cores

Jul 24, 2013

Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.

Is more always better?

Jimmy Fallon thinks so. But for mobile processors, sometimes less is more.

One quick way to try to boost processing power is to cram more cores—or individual computer “brains”—onto a single chip. Sounds great, right? If one brain is good, eight must be better. 

But you have to consider how powerful the cores are. As anyone who has sat through a bad meeting knows, trying to solve a tough problem with many tiny brains can be a painfully inefficient process. 

Instead of stuffing a bunch of cores onto chips, the focus here is on building the most powerful cores on Earth. And then we determine the optimal number to generate “ludicrous speed.”

Take a look at the graph below, which displays performance from our quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, which came out last year from Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. Next to it are the results from our newest processor—the Snapdragon 800—which also has four CPUs.  

The number of cores has stayed the same, but the re-architected Snapdragon 800 delivers a whopping 170% performance increase. 

Source: Engadget

Here’s another way to think of it. If you want to make your car into a high-performance racing machine, you don’t stick eight engines under the hood. You just put the right engine inside, based on the performance and mileage you want to generate. 

It’s also important to remember that, while the engine is critical, it is just one part of a car. It takes many high-quality parts to build a great car that you love. The same is true with mobile processors. CPUs only make up 15 to 20% of Qualcomm Snapdragon chipsets. The rest consists of other vital components, including powerful, efficient GPUs, DSPs, LTE modems and more. 

Because these components are integrated on a single piece of silicon, they work together seamlessly to deliver optimized performance. That enables incredible features such as camera sensors with zero shutter lag, Ultra HD video capture and playback, 7.1 surround sound audio, and high-speed LTE Advanced web browsing up to 150 Mbps. You can read more about these features in the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 here.

Opinions expressed in the content posted here are the personal opinions of the original authors, and do not necessarily reflect those of Qualcomm Incorporated or its subsidiaries ("Qualcomm"). Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries. The content is provided for informational purposes only and is not meant to be an endorsement or representation by Qualcomm or any other party. This site may also provide links or references to non-Qualcomm sites and resources. Qualcomm makes no representations, warranties, or other commitments whatsoever about any non-Qualcomm sites or third-party resources that may be referenced, accessible from, or linked to this site.

Tim McDonough

Senior Vice President, Marketing