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Qualcomm Krait 400 Hits 2.3GHz

January 22, 2013

Author: Linley Gwennap

With several announcements clustered around CES, Qualcomm has unveiled an impressive roadmap for 2013. Just a year after releasing its ARM-compatible Krait CPU, the company has produced not one but two improved versions. The Krait 300 provides new microarchitecture improvements that increase per-clock performance by 10–15% while pushing CPU speed from 1.5GHz to 1.7GHz. The Krait 400 extends the new microarchitecture to 2.3GHz by switching to TSMC's high-k metal gate (HKMG) process. The new chips are faster than any other mobile processor yet announced.

Qualcomm announced a set of products using the new CPUs. Employing a new numbering system, the flagship product will be called the 8974. This product includes four Krait 400 CPUs running at up to 2.3GHz, an upgraded Adreno GPU, an improved Hexagon DSP, and a "world" modem that supports LTE at up to 150Mbps plus all other popular cellular protocols. The 8074 is a standalone application processor with the same specs (but no modem). These products will ship in smartphones and tablets by mid-2013. The 8064T is a lower-cost application processor with four Krait 300 CPUs operating at up to 1.9GHz and an Adreno 320 GPU; it will appear slightly earlier, in 2Q13.

In the meantime, the company is upgrading its dual-core MSM8960 to the Krait 300. The new product, dubbed the MSM8960T (or MSM8960 Pro), also raises the CPU speed from 1.5GHz to 1.7GHz. It should appear in phones in early 2Q13, shortly before the 8064T. Announced before the new numbering system, this product retains its MSM prefix.

The Krait 300 and Krait 400 have enabled Qualcomm to extend the performance of its home-grown CPU with, in Intel's terms, both a tick and a tock—a feat that would take Intel two years. Qualcomm is also pumping up its GPU and video performance and adding new imaging capabilities. Just a few weeks into the new year, the company has set a high bar for competitors. Over the rest of 2013, we'll see if anyone else can reach it.

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