Last updated: Sep 21, 2010
Qualcomm has announced sampling of MSM8x60 series Snapdragon processor back in June 2010. MSM8x60 is considered the 3rd generation Snapdragon processor, alongside more powerful QSD8x72 processors (also a dual-core, clocked at higher speeds). MSM8x60 processors are manufactured using 45nm technology. The MSM8260 is for HSPA+, and MSM8660 is for multi-mode HSPA+/CDMA2000® 1xEV-DO Rev.B. This basically means MSM8x60 will offer support for most of the contemporary mobile broadband air interface protocols such as HSPA+, LTE and WiMAX.
Specification of MSM8x60:
- dual Scorpion cores
- 1.2GHz clock
- Adreno 220 GPU for Open GLES 2.0 and Open VG 1.1 acceleration (my own speculation - MSM8x60 has the same poly fill rate as QSD8672 on Qualcomm's website)
- 1080p video encode/decode
- dedicated low power audio engine
- integrated low power GPS
- support for 24-bit WXGA 1280x800-pixel resolution displays
MSM8x60 will likely to feature Adreno 220 GPU. Not much has been revealed about this GPU other than its polygon fill rates and few other info published on Qualcomm's website:
- Adreno 220: 88M triangles/sec, 532M 3D pixels/sec, 1080p video recording and playback up to 30 frames/second
- Adreno 205: 41M triangles/sec, 245M 3D pixels/sec, 720p video recording and playback up to 30 frames/second
Note that Adreno 205 GPU (See this article) is already a huge improvement over Adreno 200.
Updated (Oct 13, 2010): Here's the link to some benchmark numbers for Adreno 205 vs current champ - PowerVR SGX540 used in Samsung's Hummingbird.
The current estimate for the arrival of phones using this processor is Q1 of 2011.
Some hard facts:
MSM8x60 is based on ARM's Cortex A8 design. This means its CPU core should perform similar to current/second generation Snapdragons (Nexus One, HTC Evo, Droid Incredible, Dell Streak, HTC G2 etc) at the same clock speed. Since it features two cores, and clocked at least 20% higher than those, it should perform up to 2.4x faster. This of course assumes the OS can fully utilize two cores and applications are aware of multi-core presence. Similarly, MSM8x60 CPU core should not perform significantly better than the current generation OMAP processors from Texas Instrument, such as OMAP3640 (featured in Droid X, Droid 2, etc). And lastly, Samsung's Hummingbird (featured in Samsung Galaxy S series phones) will also perform similarly. Any phones to utilize Cortex A9 based processors is expected to perform significantly better, but we won't see any phones based on Cortext A9 until probably Q3/Q4 of 2011.
(Read the article about NVIDIA Tegra 2 if you want to know more about ARM's Cortex A9 and what makes it go faster than any Cortex A8 based processors)
MSM8x60 GPU - most of the previous rumors were pointing out that MSM8x60 will be using Adreno 205 GPU. But the most recent specification on Qualcomm's website suggest that this is not the case. MSM8x60 "multimedia" specs look similar to that of QSD8672. Both are significantly better than Adreno 205's numbers. Clearly, Qualcomm's 3rd generation Snapdragon processors use Adreno 220. The raw fill rate numbers alone already suggest that Adreno 220 will be at least twice as fast as Adreno 205 which is no slouch either.
(Adreno 205, will first appear in HTC G2 as part of MSM7230 processor package. Early indications say that it will perform as well as Samsung Hummingbird's PowerVR SGX540 GPU, which means it should outperform the likes of Droid X/2 (PowerVR SGX530 GPU), iPhone 4 (PowerVR SGX530 GPU rumored) and will destroy current generation Snapdragon processor based phones by up to 4x improvement in graphics performance.)
Power consumption for MSM8x60 should be similar to the current generation Snapdragon processors, despite being a dual-core processor. This is mainly because MSM8X60 is based on 45nm manufacturing technology, rather than 65nm. Most of the competitors have already moved on to 45nm however - both TI OMAP3640 and Samsung's Hummingbird uses 45nm technology.
User exierience expectations:
A phone based on 1.2GHz MSM8x60 is expected to perform significantly better than the high-end models of today (Samsung Galaxy S, Droid X, HTC G2, etc). With 2 x 1.2GHz Cortex A8 cores, users should feel significantly smoother experiences. The new GPU - Adreno 220 should again raise the bar that Adreno 205 raised over the first generation Snapdragon processors. Theoretical fill rate of Adreno 220 is STILL slightly lower than Hummingbird's PowerVR SGX540 GPU, but it remains to be seen which will perform better in real life applications.
All else being equal, a phone based on MSM8x60 is expected to be no worse in battery consumption compare to the current generation Snapdragon based phones. HTC G2 is expected to perform better mainly because it features MSM7230 which is also a 45nm based single core design with lower clock speed. Having said that, components like the screen and GPS chip consumes far more power than the CPU itself so your overall battery life will vary significantly from devices to devices.
Here are the rumored phones that are expected to use the MSM8x60 processor:
- HTC Glacier(or HTC Emerald?) - This phone, destined for T-Mobile, has shown up in the GLBenchmark result table before with very good results. Some sites have theorized that this device might be a 1.2 or 1.5GHz phone. MSM8x60 fits nicely here. Then again, MSM8255 found in HTC Desire HD and T-Mobile G2/HTC Desire Z is probably capable of similar results if GLBenchmark has strong graphics components. HTC Glacier is expected to be out to public before the end of this year.
UPDATED(Oct 2, 2010): It appears that HTC Emerald may turn out to be HTC MyTouch HD. If this is the case, then "HTC Emerald" will not feature a dual-core processor. HTC MyTouch HD has already been identified to use 1GHZ Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8255 2nd generation processor.
- HTC Scorpion - This phone, destined for Verizon, was the first rumored dual-core phone for Verizon. Not much details have been released so far, other than the fact that it will be a dual-core and expected release date will be optimistically Q4, otherwise Q1 next year. Given the timeline, this phone is more likely to feature MSM8x60.
- HTC Merge - This phone, also destined for Verizon, is also rumored to be a dual-core device. As with HTC Glacier, it is expected to show up to the public before the end of this year. So just like Glacier, it could go either way - a Verizon version of HTC Desire HD, or a new phone entirely with MSM8x60 processor.
UPDATED(Oct 2, 2010): Turned out that the rumor was false. HTC Merge has been identified to use Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM7630 processor, which is a single-core 800MHz second generation processor.
- HTC HD7 - This is a Windows Phone 7 device. The current rumor carries a massive list of features such as 4.5-inch screen and a 1.5GHz processor. It is also expected to be out during October when Microsoft goes public with their new OS, Windows Phone 7. Given the time-line, it is highly unlikely that it will be a 1.5GHz dual-core flavor (which is not expected to be out before Q3 of 2011). It could be a 1.2GHz MSM8x60, or perhaps a 1.5GHz single-core variant(Qualcomm doesn't have this on their line-up, by the way). Very puzzling!
UPDATED(Oct 2, 2010): Very disappointingly, HD7 has been announced and it will use QSD8250 processor which is a first generation 1GHz Snapdragon processor! So much for the dual-core rumor!
And here's the press release from Qualcomm regarding their Snapdragon processors:
TAIPEI, Taiwan – June 01, 2010 – Qualcomm Incorporated (Nasdaq: QCOM), a leading developer and innovator of wireless technologies, products and services, today announced the Company has sampled its first dual-CPU Snapdragon™ chipsets. The Mobile Station Modem™ (MSM™) MSM8260™ and MSM8660™ solutions integrate two of the Company’s enhanced cores running at up to 1.2GHz. Targeted at enabling high-end smartphones, the MSM8x60 solutions are third-generation chipsets from the Company’s expanded Snapdragon platform, which has been powering smartphones, tablets and smartbook devices in markets around the world.
“Qualcomm’s first-generation Snapdragon chipsets set a new standard for advanced smartphones and smartbook devices, and our second-generation solutions are already shipping in volume,” said Steve Mollenkopf, executive vice president of Qualcomm and president of Qualcomm CDMA Technologies. “We are very excited by the innovation our customers are already showing as they begin designing products based on our dual-core MSM8260 and MSM8660 chipsets.”
The MSM8260 for HSPA+ and MSM8660 for multi-mode HSPA+/CDMA2000® 1xEV-DO Rev. B feature two enhanced CPU cores running at up to 1.2GHz for high levels of Web application and multimedia performance, including a powerful GPU with 3D/2D acceleration engines for Open GLES 2.0 and Open VG 1.1 accelration, 1080p video encode/decode, dedicated low power audio engine, integrated low power GPS, and support for 24-bit WXGA 1280 x 800 resolution displays.
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon family of chipset solutions includes:
- First-generation products: QSD8x50™ with 1GHz enhanced core
- Second-generation products: MSM8x55™ and QSD8x50A™ with 1GHz enhanced core, including multimedia optimizations and 1.3GHz enhanced core, respectively
- Third-generation products: MSM8260, MSM8660 and QSD8672 with dual-CPU architecture featuring enhanced cores running at up to 1.2GHz and 1.5GHz, respectively