Qualcomm launches new quad-core Snapdragon 400 CPU

The mid-range smartphone market looks like its about to become hot property over the next few months.

Not only has chip designer ARM Holdings just announced a new Cortex A12 SoC design, but chipmaker-to-the-stars Qualcomm has knocked together a very interesting chip called the Snapdragon 400 (MSM8926).

As its name might suggest, the new chip doesn’t have the same performance levels as its all-singing-dancing Snapdragon 600 inside a fair number of Galaxy S4 smartphones, but it’ll still have enough features to make phone designers smile.

First up, its a quad-core design built around the budget-friendly Cortex A7 SoC, clocking at up to 1.2GHz – not lightning-quick but enough to still do some damage with your favourite apps.

Being a Cortex A7, it’ll also be reasonably power-efficient, thanks to being manufactured on a 28-nanometre process scale. That’ll help boost battery life.

The other feature is its built-in 3G and LTE connectivity – often these functions require separate CPUs to handle this but with Qualcomm bundling it all in the one chip, it should help make current mid-range ($200-$350) phones start looking a little weak. There’s support for HSPA data speeds of up to 42Mbps and it can also handle multiple SIMs.

It also comes with a suite of wireless technologies include 802.11ac, Bluetooth, FM and NFC (near-field communications).

“By offering a multimode 3G/4G LTE variant to Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 tier of processors with quad-core CPUs, we are ensuring that emerging regions are equipped and prepared for the imminent transition to multimode 3G/4G LTE, in addition to being equipped for every major 2G and 3G technology,” said Cristiano Amon, executive vice president and co-president of mobile and computing products, Qualcomm Technologies. “Snapdragon 400 processors provide customers with a wide range of innovative smartphones for both the high-volume and mid-tier segments.”

Okay, enough free advertising.

A quad-core Cortex A7 chip won’t have the legs to match an A15 or an A12 – it probably will struggle to match a quad-core Cortex A9 like the Nvidia Tegra 3. But it’ll provide more than acceptible level of performance at a price point you’d normally only see dual-core options.

And that certainly won’t hurt at all.


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