The processor that drives the new Nokia Lumia family of phones is like having a Porsche engine in your handset, according to makers Qualcomm.
That’s reassuring, isn’t it? The premium motor which runs the Nokia Lumia 710, Lumia 800 and the media-hungry 4.3-inch screen Nokia Lumia 900 have a 1.4 GHZ single-core Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU.
And senior vice president Rob Chandhok explained why that’s the mobile equivalent of having the cream of German auto-engineering in your pocket.
Qualcomm focus on making chips providing the maximum computing capability while using the least battery power, he says.
He told Nokia Conversations: “What we did in our architecture of the processors in the chip we are talking about is focus on the performance of the CPU (central processing unit) relative to power and we also focus on being able to dial that up and down very efficiently so that we didn’t have to have architectures where you have a big and little core.
“It’s like the difference between having an engine that has a wide range and one that doesn’t have a wide range.
“Snapdragon processors have a very wide range so you can dial them down to low power or you can ramp them up. So if you are driving a car or motorcycle that has that kind of range you can do a lot more with it.”
So what sort of engine would it be? I ask.
“I think we would say something like a Porsche,” says Rob with a grin.
So it can tick over nicely letting me type out a text very slowly, at my own pace, and then when I put the pedal to the metal on the Nokia Lumia 900 to access a video on the Web, it can screech off the starting grid and hit 4G Web speeds on AT&T’s network in the blink of an eye.
Qualcomm has worked with Nokia and Microsoft to ensure its Snapdragon processor works as efficiently as possible to give people a great mobile experience. The Nokia Lumia phones are the product of teamwork at the highest level.
“One of the things you see with windows phone is a level of maturity from Microsoft software products applied to the level of maturity in the Snapdragon processors and the combination of those two things gives you performance and power.
“And Nokia has a lot of knowledge about how people use phones. So we tend to go back and forth. All of us in Nokia, Microsoft and Qualcomm, think about this as a system.
“In mobile that is incredibly important. Because you may think you have the most efficient radio possible, but if the applications using it abuse the signaling or use it in the wrong way, that can kill my battery just as easily.
Rob says that talk of dual-core and quad-core can be a bit of a distraction because these type of processors aren’t really needed in mobiles if the software is sophisticated enough.
“Dual cores are not twice as fast. You only get to use the multicores when the software runs in parallel. But by and large, currently the majority of software presents a single thread of workload to the processor.
“So in the mobile space in particular you don’t gain much yet. That’s changing. People are starting retool their software to be more parallel.”
Besides, Snapdragon is perfectly capable of splitting tasks.
“We don’t just make the CPU,” explains Rob. “But really, especially in the mobile space, it’s the whole system. For example, on the Snapdragon, when you are scrolling in the web browser we actually use the GPU (graphics processing unit) sometimes to optimise it so that you are basically just moving pixels in memory.
“So we take advantage of every bit of processing power we have. And also programming on the most efficient algorithm possible.
“Snapdragon represents a product specifically designed for the mobile consumer and mobile device. The devices that use Snapdragon are going to perform better and their batteries will last longer. And you are going to be happier.”