Qualcomm rename its Snapdragon for more simple

Wednesday, August 3rd 2011. | Hardware News

Do you know your MSM8255 from your MSM8655? No? Don’t worry, because nobody does. Qualcomm, which makes most of the processors in U.S. smartphones, today decided to rename its Snapdragon product line in a way that makes sense to humans.

Unlike PC chipset makers such as Intel, mobile chip vendors have only recently started trying to pitch their advantages to consumers. For years, cell phone manufacturers and carriers kept their wares under wraps. So mobile chipsets had arcane, detailed part numbers that weren’t really meant to be understood by average people.

“It tends to be a bit confusing…it’s really hard to figure out the difference between these boxes and to identify the latest and greatest chips,” said Qualcomm senior director of marketing Michelle Leyden Li.

But as mobile phones have become the Personal Computer of the 21st century, more people want to be able to compare what’s under the hood. So Qualcomm is introducing four “system” groups: System 1 for basic phones, System 2 for higher-end phones, System 3 “for multi-tasking and advanced gaming,” and System 4, which isn’t out yet.

The “systems” are in order of ascending power, but they don’t always map neatly to processor specs. For instance, System 1 includes both the MSM7627, a 600-Mhz ARM11 processor, and the QSD8250, a 1-Ghz Cortex-A8 unit.

System 2 processors are all single-core, second-generation Snapdragons with a Cortex-A8 equivalent architecture and a faster GPU than System 1. System 3 are all dual-core.

System 4 specifies processors based on Qualcomm’s new “Krait” architecture, but it includes single-, dual-, and quad-core devices. So you’ll still have a wide variation in performance within a system, and geeks will still have to pay attention to exact processor specs.

Qualcomm’s primary competitors, Nvidia and TI, have different approaches to naming. Nvidia has vastly fewer products than Qualcomm, so there’s less opportunity for confusion. TI has similarly confusing product numbers to Qualcomm but has grouped its chips into OMAP3, OMAP4, and OMAP5 families.

The Snapdragon “system” branding will appear on advertisements and product labels, Qualcomm spokeswoman Catherine Rice said. There won’t just be four systems, either. As new technologies develop, higher numbers will be added. “We’ll continue to add new classes as our roadmap grows,” Li said.

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