Qualcomm-snapdragon-800-635 (1)

What Are the Differences Between Snapdragon 800 vs 801 – Are We Getting Any Real Performance Boost?

March 4, 2014 - Written By Cory McNutt

Processor, processor, who has what processor?  Qualcomm Snapdragon has become a household name for flagship devices the past three years and there is really no other company in the near future to slow them down.  Maybe if Intel ups their game and really makes an effort in the next couple of years, they could become a formidable foe, but for now, LG, Nexus, HTC, Sony, and even the mighty Samsung (who has a division the designs and makes chips) will be stuck with the Snapdragon.  When I say, “stuck” with Snapdragon, I do not mean that in a bad way, simply an unfortunate way, because there is no competition or differentiation between the devices when it comes to internal specs.

There are many different variables that make up a device – display type and resolution, speakers, connectivity, software, user interface, battery life, data storage, and the overall design and feel on the device. However, the processor or SoC, has always been like the heart and soul of the device and the first spec we ask about when discussing a new device – what is running that bad-boy and how much RAM does it have. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core device clocked at 2.3GHz has been the yardstick by which all others have been measured since 2013 – but this is 2014 and there is still no Snapdragon 805 and the manufacturers needed something better than last year’s model – enter the Snapdragon 801. What exactly is the difference between the Snapdragon 800 and 801 – let’s take a look:

800 vs 801

There are many variations of the ‘800’ chip floating around, so which is which and where did they end up?  For comparison purposes we will use as our base, the MSM8974 chip – the 800 chip used in the Galaxy Note 3 and Nexus devices among others.  According to our source, the new Galaxy S5 is confirmed to be using the highest end Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AC chip.  The Sony Xperia Z2 is also listed as using the Snapdragon 801 SoC, but the model number, MSM8974AB, is the same processor designated as the Snapdragon 800 in the Samsung Galaxy Round?

When Sony was designing the Xperia Z2, Qualcomm decided (or was nudged) to create an upgrade to the Snapdragon 800, a kind of 800/801, if you will, hence the MSM8974AB model designation.  Although our source said, that they really could not find any differences in the components between the 800 and this 801. From the chart above you can see that there is a fair amount of overlap between the MSM8974 (800) and MSM8974AB (800/801) and even the MSM8974AC (801).  In fact, between the MSM8974 and MSM8974AB there are differences in only two areas – the GPU and CPU frequency.

The CPU frequency jumps from a maximum of 2.3GHz to 2.5GHz, an 8-percent increase and a jump in the GPU from 550MHz to 578MHz a mere 5-percent increase in performance.  With the GPU jump from the MSM8974 (800) to the newer MSM8974AB there is a 22-percent increase in speed and when compared to the MSM8974AC there is a 28-percent jump.  The newer MSM8974AB and MSM8974AC chips have their own image signal processor (ISP) chip for faster handling of videos and images – between the older MSM8974 and the two newer chips, there is a 45-percent increase in speed from 320MHz to 465MHz.  This has caused a throughput bumped from 640MPixels/s (320MHz) to 1GPixels/s (465MHZ).

To sum this all up: Both of the Snapdragons used in the Xperia Z2 (800/801) and Galaxy S5 (801) exceed the older Snapdragon 800 used in so many devices last year, with a slight edge in speed to the Galaxy S5 processor.  In terms of comparing both of those chips against last year’s 800 the only boost is in the IPS and GPU performance – this should help with that extra gaming performance and video recording.  In day-to-day performance there will not be much difference from the older processor, although the Galaxy S5 does have the option to use a faster MicroSD card.

We will have to wait and see what the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 coming later this year will have to offer – please let us know on our Google+ Page if you are disappointed the 805 is not in these two devices and do you think that Samsung or Sony should have waited before launching new devices.