nVidia / Qualcomm

Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 vs Nvidia Tegra 3

Mobile SoCs have come a long way in the last couple years. With the 4th generation of Qualcomm Snapdragon and 3rd generation Tegra processors, the performance wars have heated up. So which one’s better? Before we get into that…we need to get the basics out of the way…

Specific device performance can vary, NOT just on SoC capabilities but also the combination in which the SoC is placed in tandem with other components such as memory (RAM), graphics processor, and Operating system.
Some SoC manufacturers (such as Texas Instruments and Nvidia) )stick to set guidelines placed by SoC Architecture providers (Such as ARM technologies) while other SoC manufacturers (such as Apple – with respect to the A6 chip, and Qualcomm – with respect to their Snapdragon series) have licences from architecture providers like ARM, to provide their own versions of ARM’s feature setup. As a result, these processors aren’t easily directly comparable as they’re not really identical.
Benchmarks are great to test SoC capabilities, to an extent. See, the challenge with benchmarks is that the same benchmark software is written differently for different OS’s and these OS’s handle these benchmarks in different ways. At the end of the day, benchmarks can give us numbers that only tell the story based on not just the ability of the chipset, but also the operating system on which the benchmark was optimized.
Having these basics out of the way, we will address the issue of processor comparison where its most observed: Normal Day-to-Day usage.

So here are some specific videos which answer our questions to some extent. In this post we’re talking about the Snapdragon S4 chip (the Dual-core) and the Tegra 3 (quad-core) because these came out at pretty much the same time. The S4 pro which is the quad-core version of the S4 will not be included here because its one generation later and obviously much better (notice here, that the number of cores doesn’t necessarily determine the prowess of the chipset: rather the generation of the chipset matters more, as the performance and feature set of each core improves more drastically with each generation than an increase in the number of cores).

From the video, one point is obvious: The Snapdragon S4 SoC is definitely the go-to chip. Not only because each of its cores is much more  powerful, but also because its the more complete SoC as it integrates LTE into the chip as well, a feat the Tegra 3 still hasn’t managed to accomplish. It must be stated though, that when it comes to graphics processing, the Tegra ship performs a hairline above the integrated Adreno 225 in the Snapdragon SoC. It boils down to this: Overall, in everyday usage, you will get better and smoother usage (given the same versions of Android OS) on the S4 chipset even though its a dual core chip. This of course, is dude to the fact that Android (4.0 and 4.1) doesn’t really take advantage of task multi-threading past two cores. This of course, may change in future versions.

Winner: Snapdragon S4.

What do you think? Was this assessment fair? Leave a comment below!

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