Sunday Debate: Who Will Take The Chipset Crown?
Join us in a fun Sunday Debate on Chipsets. Come with your opinions and feel free to read some of our thoughts, then pick your side or play devil’s advocate to get your voice heard and engage in friendly discussion. You can read our food-for-thought or jump straight into the fray below!
As power users, processors are a big deal to us. Readers of our XDA Portal have probably noticed that performance is a topic we address weekly, be it through new system optimizations or discussing the latest developments in hardware. This year, chipsets haven’t had the best track record — at least not for all parties. While Samsung did see a particularly good release with their S6 and its powerful Exynos, Qualcomm’s monopoly over flagship phones burned out with their Snapdragon 810 processor. Other companies like MediaTek still haven’t caught up, and Huawei’s Kirin CPU did not impress nearly as much as we expected.
With Qualcomm having lost reputation and influence over the flagship game, it might be time for another manufacturer to break into the premium offerings of most OEMs. While the Snapdragon line has served us right for years – and can continue to do so with their upcoming SD820 and its revisioned design – many power users agree that there needs to be a change, if only for variety’s and competition’s sake. With so many players stepping up their game and holding promising developments, the future of our phones’ silicon brains are uncertain, and watching the competition scale up and battle it out will certainly be interesting.
So our questions to you are: what do you want to see in upcoming chipsets, and who do you want to improve? Do you believe current underdogs will climb up the ladder? Do you think Qualcomm will redeem itself soon? Which manufacturer’s developments are you looking forward to the most? Who do you want to build your next phone’s chip? Feel free to read some of our thoughts on each company to get some context and kick-start your thoughts, but you can jump straight to the comments if you want!
- Qualcomm: The company that made some of the best and most beloved processors in Android history (such as the timeless Snapdragon 800) is now in quite a struggle due to its disappointing Snapdragon 810. We all know about this, and while the revised iterations don’t show much promise, its upcoming Snapdragon 820 will bring back Qualcomm’s custom CPU designs with Kyro, the successor to the 800 line’s traditional Krait Cores. This and the significant advances in the Adreno GPU line (which didn’t slow down much in the 810) raise our hopes of a comeback.
- Samsung: The Exynos 7 line Samsung touted so much delivered in the S6 and S6 Edge, which boasted the best synthetic benchmark outputs of any phone released at its time. Only Nvidia’s SoCs can compete, but these cannot be reasonably incorporated into phones. With promises of better performance, reports of “Mongoose” custom cores and a new long-term deal with ARM for the best Mali GPUs, we can expect great things. And when you factor in Samsung’s increasingly shrinking processes and ridiculous investments in fabrication methods and factories, things look even better. Will they sell these to other OEMs, though?
- Intel: Intel’s new developments in the mobile space are quite remarkable: from having little to no presence in mobile consumer minds, Intel managed to put its name out there with the ZenFone 2, which featured excellent performance for its pricepoint. With promises of shrinked processes, the next-generation Cherry Trail Atom CPUs and the ongoing indirect optimization of x86 on Android (through ART lessening the need for platform-specific code), Intel might have quite a trick (or performance) up its sleeve for us soon.
- HiSilicon: Huawei’s chipmaking division might not be the most known nor renowned one out there, but they are scaling up to try and compete in this increasingly fierce space. Huawei is a company that focuses heavily on R&D, with 46% of their employees being allocated in that department, and their year-to-year growth makes them a solid competitor. Their latest Kirin 930 CPU found in their P8 flagship was admittedly underwhelming, but Qualcomm had a rough transition to big.LITTLE 64-bit architectures as well, and Huawei can bring up its game through sheer investments and formidable R&D resources alone.
- Nvidia: Nvidia’s latest chips are not meant for smartphones, but nonetheless they offer tremendous performance. As far as theoretical maximums go, their Tegra K1 and X1 line of SoC’s are at the front of benchmark outputs. They consistently break benchmark records, although their real-world performance (as seen in the Nexus 9) is not quite what the numbers would suggest and putting these on phones would be impractical due to heat and battery drain. Could Nvidia surprise us with a worthy smartphone chip?
There are other chipset companies that we did not mention, so feel free to bring them up. All of these chipmakers can surprise us in the future, and now that Qualcomm lost its leading reputation, it might lose its position on future flagships. We can expect all of these companies to ramp up their efforts to have a shot at the crown — all of them have tremendous amounts of resources, and most get their fair share of revenue from other areas (outside of mobile processors) as well. Keeping an open mind, we ask you:
- Which chip makers do you think will surprise us in the near future?
- Will any of them take Qualcomm’s crown, or will Snapdragons remain in most phones?
- Which do you think will put out the best performing chip, and what do you base your predictions on?
- Which company do you personally want in charge of your next chipset?