Yesterday, Qualcomm announced a new SoC for its Snapdragon S4 Play category, the MSM8x26, and alongside it a new transceiver, WTR2605. The announcement was a little light on detail and I waited until confirmation of a few details, but now know more about these two new parts geared at the growing entry-level Chinese handset market.

First off, MSM8x26 is a 28nm SoC consisting of four ARM Cortex A7 CPUs running at (1.2 GHz) alongside an Adreno 305 GPU. This is to my knowledge the first Qualcomm SoC using a Cortex A7 for CPU, previously we've seen a lot of Cortex A5 use at Qualcomm in parts like MSM8x25 (dual A5s), MSM8x25Q (quad A5s), and also onboard baseband as an optional AP for managing things like a router. MSM8x26 is the spiritual successor to MSM8x25Q, which was again quad core ARM Cortex A5s at 45nm with Adreno 203 graphics. MSM8x26 should bring a nice jump in performance on both CPU and GPU over that part, in addition to supporting 1080p video encode and decode, and support for 13 MP cameras. MSM8x26 will come in two flavors, 8226 with UMTS and TD-SCDMA, and 8626 with UMTS, CDMA, and TD-SDCMA, consistent with Qualcomm's part numbering scheme. 

The other part of the story is the new transceiver, WTR2605, whose name suggests a wafer-level package (W for wafer) and includes necessary improvements to accommodate dual SIM active and standby modes (DS-DS operation) popular in the entry level Chinese market MSM8x26 is geared at. I don't know anything further about the WTR2605 or how it compares in terms of RF ports to WTR1605L, which is Qualcomm's current flagship transceiver, but suspect it's an evolution of that design with changes to accommodate the dual SIM modes. We'll have a piece ready later in the week about WTR1605 and the state of Qualcomm's modem portfolio.

Source: Qualcomm

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  • lmcd - Saturday, December 15, 2012 - link

    A9 wasn't actually that appealing of a core. There was some part of the A9 that was gimped, something that really didn't make sense to gimp. Unfortunately my tiny little brain can't remember what. I'm pretty sure it wasn't gimped in A8. Besides, A7 is like 1/4 the die space of an A9, and only really loses out due to the OoO architecture loss, which doesn't seem as huge when you have four cores to deal with those bottlenecks.

    I remember it (right now) as Krait and non-Krait. Non Krait is basically an A8. Krait is halfway between A9 and A15 and doesn't seem to have the exact weakness the A9 does.
  • GrizzledYoungMan - Wednesday, December 5, 2012 - link

    Because, honestly, I can't keep these f'ing things straight. You know, something that gives a good overview of the history of each part, it's intended usage, power characteristics, basic architectural features (in order, out of order, etc etc etc).

    Not trying to give you more work, Brian, although something tells me you'd relish the challenge.
  • MadMan007 - Wednesday, December 5, 2012 - link
  • ET - Thursday, December 6, 2012 - link

    ARM has a page on its CPU's:

    Click the Compare Processors tab.

    (That of course doesn't include non-ARM cores.)
  • GrizzledYoungMan - Thursday, December 6, 2012 - link

    All helpful, thanks, but not exactly what I'm referring to. I'm thinking of something that is more narrative, and offers a bit of analysis (and depth) as to the practical implications of these architectural changes and evolutions.
  • agag - Friday, December 7, 2012 - link

    I don't think that information is out there in a coherent form. I worked at Qualcomm for a year and it took me at least six months to have any idea what was going on.
  • 1008anan - Monday, December 10, 2012 - link

    When does MSM8x26 hit cell phones?

    I don't see the point of four A7 Cortex cores that are not combined with at least one high single threaded performance core.

    Almost all cell phone applications depend on single threaded performance (since our libraries and tool-sets that use parallel multi-threaded power efficient code are so incomplete.) Wouldn't a cell phone powered by an Apple Swift A6 core (or Krait/A15 equivalent) with one A7 or cortex M4 companion core (that kicks in when the high performance core is turned off) be higher performance with better battery life? For that matter a single Intel Atom Z Medfield would probably have better performance and probably better battery life (because of how fast it switches between active states)

    Brian, could you explain QCOM's rational?
  • lmcd - Saturday, December 15, 2012 - link

    I really want to see an A15 paired with two A7s, full-on Adreno 320 graphics, and a small graphics coprocessor for compositing like TI had on their 4470. The A7s and coprocessor would be really efficient and make for a great battery life, while the A15 and 320 would make for great performance in games.

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