Nvidia is making a big deal at this year's MWC of proving its bold claim that the upcoming Tegra 4 system-on-chip is "the world's fastest mobile processor." The first benchmarking runs show the company's new silicon comfortably outpacing every piece of current-generation hardware — sometimes more than doubling the previous high watermark. Nvidia's biggest competitor, however, remains unperturbed.
Qualcomm's Senior VP of Product Management, Raj Talluri, told us today that his team is "more focused on shipping products" than refuting competitors' claims, but he still believes that the latest iteration of the Snapdragon chip "easily" beats Nvidia's best. Tegra 4 may be impressive, but the Snapdragon 800 is "so much more integrated" — by virtue of having an LTE modem built right into its silicon die — and simply more powerful in general terms. Raj cited the 800 series' unique ability to both encode and decode 4K content, and was backed up by demonstrations just outside our meeting room at Qualcomm's MWC booth. While Qualcomm's confidence may be quieter than Nvidia's, it appears to be no less passionate or determined.
Talluri has plenty of other reasons to be optimistic about the Snapdragon 800. The freshly announced ZTE Grand Memo is just one of over 50 upcoming products to feature the 2.3GHz-capable quad-core processor, and the Qualcomm man anticipates "a whole bunch" of others to be revealed in the coming months and to go on sale in the second half of 2013. And let's not forget that the Snapdragon 600 is already on the near horizon with phones like the HTC One and LG Optimus G Pro. It won't match the pure grunt of the Tegra 4, but it should pose a fine challenge to Nvidia's LTE-integrated Tegra 4i, setting the stage for a fine performance contest through the rest of this year.
Snapdragon 200 chips can be expected to figure in sub-$100 smartphones in 2013
As to the more affordable end of Qualcomm's Snapdragon range, Talluri tells us to expect the most frugal Snapdragon 200 processor to figure in sub-$100 smartphones at some point this year. The 400 series can be expected in devices costing from $100 to $300, and once the 800 comes to the market to fill the $500+ top end, we should also be able to find Snapdragon 600 phones in the $300 to $500 price range.