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Nvidia says Qualcomm's Snapdragon S4 performance claims are wrong

More cores result in better performance
Wed Feb 29 2012, 10:54

CHIP DESIGNER Nvidia has hit back at claims made by Qualcomm that its Tegra 3 chip is outperformed by Qualcomm's Snapdragon S4 Pro.

Yesterday Qualcomm's Rob Chandok, SVP of Software Strategy and president of the firm's Innovation Center told journalists at a roundtable that its Snapdragon S4 MSM8960 system-on-chip (SoC) and its newly announced dual-core Snapdragon S4 Pro beat Nvidia's five-core Tegra 3 chip in just about every benchmark under the sun. Now Nvidia has fired back, saying that the figures bandied about by Qualcomm are incorrect based on reviews on the web.


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Chandok did not mention Nvidia's Tegra 3 by name in his presentation, instead using phrases such as "quad-core 1.3-1.4GHz chip", which anyone with access to a search engine can work out is a reference to Nvidia's Tegra 3 chip. Nvidia clearly thought Chandok's comments were aimed at its burgeoning Tegra 3 chip and fired back claiming the results simply do not correlate with independent reviews.

Michael Rayfield, GM of Nvidia's mobile business told The INQUIRER, "Look at the benchmarks on web - clearly Qualcomm isn't correct about MSM8960 outperforming Tegra 3. Tegra 3 beats 8960, in single threaded, multithreaded, and graphics. These benchmarks show that Tegra 3 is rendering 77 per cent more pixels than Krait 8960 and winning! The Krait architecture looks like it performs worse than an ARM Cortex A9."

Chandok's claims about performance were not limited to number crunching abilities, with the firm claiming its micro-architecture delivers improved power efficiency, though the firm didn't mention specifically which devices it was comparing against. On this point Rayfield countered, saying, "Only Tegra 3 has a fifth battery saver core - Tegra 3 is more power efficient. Tegra 3 devices are shipping now, you can go test this today." Rayfield's comment about being able to test devices now is a dig at the fact that Snapdragon S4 Pro devices won't be seen for a good few months yet.

Rayfield's parting shot couldn't be clearer. "If Qualcomm needs to point to their future S4 'Pro' to claim graphics benefits, they know the 8960 is weak in graphics."

Qualcomm's claims of performance superiority do seem a tad defensive from a firm that is clearly well ahead of Nvidia in SoC volume sales at the moment. While the firm's MSM8960 did benchmark well against Tegra 3 in a recent round of reviews, it hardly wiped the floor with it and Qualcomm knows that consumers love higher numbers - just ask AMD how much work it has done to convince punters of the megahertz myth.

Nvidia must be feeling happy that Qualcomm decided to bring Tegra 3 up in such a way during a Snapdragon round table conversation, however it also knows that Qualcomm is a much tougher rival than AMD in a market that is far more competitive than high-end discrete graphics. Given Chandok's comments, one can say that Nvidia has finally arrived as a credible competitor in the SoC market. µ


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