North America versus the World, Qualcomm versus NVIDIA
The North American One X uses the Snapdragon S4 dual core processor from Qualcomm. The S4 debuts the new Krait core which is independently developed and most similar to the upcoming ARM Cortex-A15
cores. Krait is extremely efficient, able to fetch and execute more instructions per clock than ARM’s older A9
designs with the added advantage of TSMC 28nm process
. It also features a dual channel memory controller which will speed feeding those cores with data and instructions. The Krait core is catapulting you, future One X owner, to A15 levels of performance before that core hits the street. The European version of the One X is based on NVIDIA’s Tegra 3
, another badass processor with four Cortex-A9 cores and a fifth A9-based, low-power companion core for improved power management under low or idle load. These processors have taken us right to the edge of the power that a CPU in this form factor can consume and a mobile phone case can dissipate without toasting your hand. We have arrived at processing equilibrium, and unlike desktop PC’s where the industry was able to cheat and increase the CPU power as it went to multi-core, the mobile world cannot, your hand can only get so hot before you start to scream.
On the GPU front, the Adreno 225 GPU
uses the same 28nm TSMC process node as today’s leading-edge desktop and mobile GPUs from AMD and NVIDIA. However, this GPU is one step behind which helped speed time to market, but left it a step behind NVIDIA’s Tegra 3 GPU core. The Ardreno 225 is able to run at 400MHz vs. the 266MHz of the Qualcomm Snapdragon S3 GPU due to the die shrink from 40nm to 28nm granting a significant improvement in performance. Of course, the 720P resolution of the One X is going to consume much of that improvement for 3D games and applications that scale to 720P.
GPU technology from NVIDIA and AMD on this 28nm process can consume hundreds of watts and employ truly advanced graphics and GPU accelerated general purpose computing. The GPU tech is arguably a solved problem waiting for more die shrinks. NVIDIA, already able to produce GPU's of amazing performance in the notebook and desktop world, is simply biding its time and throwing additional pipes, incremental power saving technology, and improvement in memory sharing architecture to improve GPU application acceleration as improvement in silicon process technology permits. For example, did you know that Tegra 3 GPU is a third (8 shader cores) of the GPU used in PlayStation 3 (24 shader cores, GeForce 6/7 generation), albeit in just one hundredth of power consumption.The price we pay
All of this raises the question of whether the supporting technology is up to speed. The latest handhelds do not have enough DRAM, flash storage, battery life, I/O connectivity, or OS stability and manageability for the radical multi-tasking and wildly powerful multimedia processing that they harbor, and all phones save the Razer Maxx are offering consumers completely inadequate batteries - we need to suffer a bit more heft in the onboard battery.The One X suffers all of these deficiencies - in the course of using it you are sure to encounter all of them, unless you just want to text and make calls and like how it looks and it’s hypnotic effects on your nerdy friends and pretty girls.
For consumers, this means you win - we are now in a remarkably efficient market with well tuned processing and graphics technology. But be prepared for hot hands as the top handsets are going to stay close to this toasty edge for some time. Keep the power cable close to you, it's a USB one anyways.
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