All microprocessor companies struggle with the same basic marketing problem: how do you explain to the average consumer why one part is faster than another without saying cache, GHz or cores. Intel and AMD have been using model numbers to abstract hardware differences for years. Today Qualcomm is announcing its own attempt at the same.

Snapdragon will continue to refer to Qualcomm’s family of high performance apps processors. Although in the past we’ve known them by relatively obscure seven character model numbers (e.g. MSM8660), going forward these SoCs are going to be grouped into one of four categories: S1, S2, S3 and S4.

The rules are pretty simple. Bigger numbers mean better SoCs, smaller numbers mean cheaper/lower power. The full name will be something like Snapdragon S1 Mobile Processor, although it’s unclear whether or not we’ll see a model number attached to the end of that. 

The S stands for System and the breakdown of specs is in the slide below:

The Snapdragon S1 is the mainstream 65nm SoC we’ve been seeing for the past year and a half: single core, Adreno 200 GPU, not a lot of fun but great for free/value phones. The S2 is the 45nm Snapdragon used in modern single-core Android smartphones. The S3 and S4 are the most interesting. The former encompasses Qualcomm’s move to dual-core SoCs, while the latter uses its next-generation Krait microarchitecture.

Although S1 - S3 SoCs are available today, Qualcomm won’t be shipping Snapdragon S4 processors until the end of 2011. Devices built around Snapdragon S4 processors will appear in 2012.

The branding change makes sense for Qualcomm. Prior to the S1 - S4 naming you either had people calling everything a Snapdragon or had to worry about explaining the difference between an APQ8060 and MSM8660. The new branding helps segment things a bit although I do believe Qualcomm will need to follow AMD/Intel’s lead and introduce some sort of a model number to indicate performance differences between parts within a family.


Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • Aikouka - Wednesday, August 3, 2011 - link

    Even worse is that the S1 seems to be using the image of a SEGA Nomad!

    All joking aside, I do think they need to ease back on the marketing fluff a bit in regard to real life equivalents. The games certainly are "console-like", but it's more like last-generation's Playstation 2 at this point. To be fair, while the graphics look like a PS2, they are rendering at higher resolutions than the PS2.
  • ViRGE - Wednesday, August 3, 2011 - link

    I think that's the bottom half of a Nintendo DS, not a Nomad.
  • MobileSoC - Wednesday, August 3, 2011 - link

    This is fine for a snapshot of Snapdragon in time, but going forward these definitions with GHz and core specifications will change, and they will lose all the value of the low to high segments. Or are these are just examples, with S1-S4 specs changing over time? The tiers of devices and their uses will also change, so this looks like a short-term solution that they will have to re-consider in the future. Trying to make thing simpler now may make it more complicated later.
  • DanNeely - Wednesday, August 3, 2011 - link

    Looks like something out of intel's book; so keeping it consistent shouldn't be a problem:

    Pentium Pro ... this one's not intended for normal users because it sucks at running old code
    Pentium 2 ... but this is a successor to both P and P-pro
    Pentium 3
    Pentium 4
    Pentium M ... err this is OK since it's a laptop part not a desktop chip
    Core ... new stuff new branding but we'll be consistent again in the future
    Core 2 ... see
    Pentium ... but it seems some people still think pentium means fast so we're bringing it back but will only put really slow stuff here. Yeah that's the ticket.
    Core i3/5/7 ... the i is for... umm .. uhh
    Core i3/5/7 .... same stuff bigger model numbers, makes perfect sense, right?
  • MobileSoC - Wednesday, August 3, 2011 - link

    Great examples! Maybe they were just looking for a short-term approach, but I think they boxed themselves in without longer-term thinking.
  • ImSpartacus - Wednesday, August 3, 2011 - link

    That's not boxing themselves in.

    They want people to understand what i3, i5 and i7 mean, and they want them to be consistent.

    People know that machines with i7 processors are capable. I love going to Best Buy and hearing college kids tell each other that i7 processors are very fast. That is EXACTLY what Intel wants. They want people to identify the three levels of processors and not much more.

    For us, they still have model numbers. Nothing has changed.
  • A5 - Wednesday, August 3, 2011 - link

    I think the idea is that next year they will add an S5, then S6, and so on. This is just how it fits in with the current lineup.
  • formulav8 - Wednesday, August 3, 2011 - link

    AMD probably see's this and really hates the thought of selling off all of its IP to qualcomm.

    Unless it was someone else they sold it to???
  • cohetedor - Wednesday, August 3, 2011 - link

    Nice, so s1 dumb phones are for women, s2 are for men, and s3 are for the geeky tech nerd?
    There's no way those three images were chosen by accident either.
  • DrApop - Wednesday, August 3, 2011 - link

    "The new branding helps segment things a bit although I do believe Qualcomm will need to follow AMD/Intel’s lead and introduce some sort of a model number to indicate performance differences between parts within a family."

    I have absolutely no idea how this small change can be compared in anyway to AMD/Intel. What AMD and Intel have done is completely confuse the general public on the level of cpu's. As an AMD person, I have all but given up on trying to understand most of their naming and model makes no sense to me anymore. I can no longer tell which is the latest model/archetecture change (or subchange within a certain model). It is the main reason I have forestalled my upgrade for the last couple of years. I don't have time to do all the research I need just to buy a $100 cpu for my system.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now