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Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 800 and Snapdragon 600 chips crank up speed just about everywhere

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802.11ac Wi-Fi, 150Mbps Cat 4 LTE, and far faster CPU and GPU cores


Say goodbye to the Qualcomm Snapdragon S1, S2, S3 and S4 — the company that clawed its way inside so many new smartphones last year has decided it's time for an overhaul. For 2013, Qualcomm's launching a brand new family of mobile silicon consisting of the Snapdragon 800, Snapdragon 600, Snapdragon 400 and Snapdragon 200 processors, and if you've got a need for speed you might want to pay attention to the top two categories in that lineup. For starters, the new Snapdragon 600 will pick up where the S4 Pro left off in such powerful phones as the Droid DNA. The quad-core Krait processor and Adreno 320 graphics have gotten a speed bump, with Qualcomm promising a 40 percent increase since the last generation. Snapdragon 600 devices should arrive in the second quarter of the year.

For the Snapdragon 800, though, the company's pulling out all the stops, promising a 75 percent CPU performance increase and double the graphics compute performance with new Krait 400 CPU cores (at up to 2.3GHz each) and an Adreno 330 GPU, a faster LTE Cat 4 modem, faster 802.11ac Wi-Fi, QFHD video recording, support for resolutions up to 2560 x 2048, and components tuned for lower power consumption too. Lest you think it's just for tablets, Qualcomm told us that there will actually be smartphones running Snapdragon 800 chips at that full 2.3GHz frequency. The Snapdragon 800 will start arriving mid-year.

Between the two new processor families, Qualcomm says it's already got 50 different products lined up to use the chips, and is looking to have quite a few more. The company tells us it's hoping to match or surpass the success of the Snapdragon S4, whose integrated LTE modem and low-power performance made the company quite a few friends among smartphone manufacturers last year.