The Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro certainly seems to be the System on a Chip (SoC) to beat these days. It was just recently reported that the next Nexus 7 tablet might opt for a Qualcomm processor instead of the new Tegra 4, and now reports say that the new Galaxy S IV might chose Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 silicon as well.
While the Nexus 7’s switch was interesting because it implied LTE connectivity and suggested that the Tegra 4 might not be as dominant as the previous Tegra versions (especially since Google didn’t use it in the new Chromebook Pixel as was rumored), Samsung’s rumored choice to forego their own Exynos Octa processor has some potentially interesting implications. Some say that the Octa has been having some power drain problems, and for this or other reasons Samsung has decided to work on the chip a bit longer before putting it in a flagship smartphone. The decision could also be influenced by the fact that Samsung is manufacturing some of Qualcomm’s 28nm Snapdragon S4 processors, so the move might signify a collaborative future for Samsung and Qualcomm. It wouldn’t be the first time Qualcomm silicon powered a Samsung device, as a few varieties of the US Galaxy S III came with the Snapdragon S4.
Realistically, most end users won’t notice the switch much at least with the Galaxy S IV, except perhaps in terms of custom software development. I’m not familiar with exactly how development works, but certain processor families such as Qualcomm’s Snapdragons are generally more friendly to modification than others. What really interests me about this rumor, however, is the idea that if Samsung does begin to work with Qualcomm, then the mobile processor battle could begin to boil down to Nvidia versus the rest of the manufacturers, with Intel awkwardly in the middle with its x86 architecture. I’m not sure of the implications of a shift like this, but the tide does seem to be turning against Nvidia and the Tegra processors, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some more interesting changes in the near future.