The Mobile World Congress announcements just keep on coming: today Qualcomm announced a new Snapdragon 801 chip that takes everything about the Snapdragon 800 and makes it just a little bit faster. It’s scheduled to begin shipping in devices this quarter, and we’d expect to see it in the imminent flagship phones from Samsung, HTC, and others.
The chip’s makeup is largely identical to the Snapdragon 800, and Qualcomm notes that both chips share “software and pin-compatibility.” Any design intended for the Snapdragon 800 should be able to use the 801 without any extra work. It’s got four CPU cores based on the 32-bit Krait 400 architecture, an Adreno 330 GPU, integrated 150Mbps LTE and 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and the same variant of TSMC’s 28nm process. Qualcomm has also added eMMC 5.0 support, which should boost maximum storage performance compared to the 800’s eMMC 4.5.
Performance is boosted mostly by increased clock speeds: the CPU now maxes out at 2.45GHz compared to 2.26 and 2.36 in the 800; the GPU maxes at 578MHz instead of 450MHz; and the memory bus runs at 933MHz instead of 800MHz. These are the kinds of small-but-significant increases you can make once your chips are more mature and the kinks are worked out of the manufacturing process. Actual performance will depend on what you do and how your phone or tablet throttles under load.
Qualcomm is refreshing its low- and mid-end processor lineups with new 64-bit chips in the form of the Snapdragon 410 and the just-announced 610 and 615, but none of those chips can outrun last fall’s Snapdragon 800. The company’s next high-end chip, the Snapdragon 805, isn’t scheduled to ship in devices until later this year. The 801’s role is to bridge the gap between the 800 and 805, giving Android and Windows Phone OEMs something “new” to put in their spring smartphone refreshes without requiring a whole lot of extra work on Qualcomm’s part.