NVIDIA vs Qualcomm: Battle of the two Silicon Tzars
This is the ultimate showdown. The rivalry that gathered steam thanks to a splurge of smartphones and tablets in the market is now being put to test. Both NVIDIA and Qualcomm have revealed their ultra-powerful chipsets for 2013 – Tegra 4 and Snapdragon 800 respectively – and each one of them asserts to push the limits miles further. Let us take a look at them and decide who wins this ultimate battle of mobile processors.
The more experienced warrior in the arena stunned everyone earlier this year, when it released the Tegra 4 system-on-chip and its LTE-enabled kin Tegra 4i. Claims of being the fastest mobile processor on earth poured in, and they did pack a punch. With four ARM Cortex A15s running at up to 1.9GHz and 72 GPU cores for exceptional graphics performance, Tegra 4 seems just the right processor for modern smart devices.
An offshoot to Tegra 4 is Tegra 4i, with the added feature of an onboard LTE modem. Thanks to the acquisition of the soft-modem manufacturer called Icera, NVIDIA managed to integrate the LTE modem on the same silicon die on which the entire processor is built. This renders Tegra 4i to be almost half the size of what is provided by companies like Qualcomm, Broadcom and Intel.
Chimera computational photography
This revolutionary architecture integrated in Tegra 4 promises to take mobile photography far beyond from where it is today. Chimera brings features like always-on high-dynamic range (HDR) photos and videos, HDR panoramic and persistent tap-to-track capabilities. ”We’re enabling developers and users to not only use image processing to enhance their photos, but also use computer algorithms to create images no lens can capture alone”, a company blog reads.
Qualcomm might be relatively new in the processor industry, but this does not demean its position as the leading mobile processor vendor today. Most mobile manufacturers have opted for Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S1-S4 engines, and we can safely assume that the trend will continue with the new folks in the village – Snapdragon 200, 400, 600 and 800.
The most advanced of them, Snapdragon 800, gives a tough fight to NVIDIA’s Tegra 4 when it comes to processor clock speed. Snapdragon 800 runs on 2.3GHz and clearly beats the Tegra, thus making it more suitable for higher-end tablets. Snapdragon also comes with an integrated LTE modem and thus leaves no room for Tegra to establish its supremacy. Although it lacks the Chimera feature which NVIDIA boasts about, Qualcomm has made up for that shortcoming by enabling the Snapdragon to both encode and decode 4K content. This renders it suitable for 4K displays which many see as the future of display technology.
Hence the choice is really tough. Both the silicon Tzars have made digital communication inherent in their processors, but they have chosen different paths to improve graphics performance and clock speed. Who wins is really a matter of market swings and choice of mobile-makers.
The showdown ends.
Abhishek Mittal is an engineering student by profession and a creative writer by passion. Pursuing his B.E. in Electrical and Electronics from BITS Pilani Hyderabad, he is the Co-Editor of Gadgetronica and is deeply interested in the latest happenings of the gadget-world. Often targeted as an Apple fanboy, Abhishek closely follows the business strategies of all the tech-giants, and sometimes predict the future too!
28 February, 2013