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How Qualcomm cooks up the Nokia Lumia 920's processor chip

Joel Willans Published by Joel Willans December 11, 2012

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How Qualcomm cooks up the Nokia Lumia 920's processor chip

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571

Joel Willans Published by Joel Willans December 11, 2012

To create something as stunning as your Nokia Lumia 920 needs years of practice and training. The same is no less true of the processor chip that powers it. It has taken thousands of man-hours for Qualcomm to design and refine its Snapdragon S4 processor.

In a way, designing a chip is like following a very complex recipe, with fundamental and quality ingredients that are essential for great results. Perhaps the best way to grasp what goes into making a successful processor chip is to check off its list of ingredients, just as a Master Chef might.

A powerful “Krait” Dual-Core CPU

Krait is the second in the family of Snapdragon CPUs custom-designed by Qualcomm. Based on the ARM instruction set and technologies such as asymetric processing (aSMP), Krait can deliver higher performance for multimedia-related SIMD operations, which works to make the Windows Phone 8 experience lightning fast.

Adreno 225 GPU for Graphics Processing

The Adreno 225 GPU ensures smooth gameplay, high frame rates, and enhanced scenes with jaw-dropping effects. But it’s not just games that benefit. Augmented reality such as that used by Nokia City Lenses, 2D to 3D conversion, and Miracast (Wireless Display) all gain, too.

A video processor

Qualcomm has a dedicated video engine that handles video capture and playback. In the Lumia 920’s case, it ensures that all your high definition videos (up to 1080p) play back smoothly. And that’s not all it does, digital image stabilization, for example, removes unwanted hand motion during video recording and enables up to 20x digital zoom. This can be used with any camcorder application.

Edge-adaptive scaling, combined with edge enhancements, creates incredibly sharp images. While advanced artifact removal, substantially improves video quality when packet loss occurs during video streaming or video telephony

DSP (Digital Signal Processor) for audio processing

Qualcomm’s Digitial Signal Processor (DSP) is used mainly for audio processing. Anytime you offload work from the CPU, you’re getting better power efficiency and battery life.

Sensors

This partial Snapdragon S4 processor has a dedicated sensor core, which consists of a gyroscope, accelerometer, compass, and light. A dedicated sensor core means that you can perform low-level monitoring and algorthm offloading that the CPU would otherwise being doing. Similar to DSP, anytime you offload work from the CPU, you’re saving power.  An on-board sensor-core also means that you can efficient pull data off from any sensor to improve user experiences like gaming, shake detection (camera), location/geotagging, etc.

Power management

A PMIC (Power Management Integrated Circuit) is put in place to optimize the Snapdragon S4 processor, found in the Lumia 920, for power, voltage sequencing and control requirements. With all the components found in the S4, you need a PMIC to direct traffic.

Hardware security

Unfortunately, mobile hacking is becoming increasingly common, and the problem looks to get worse. Having said that, the Snapdragon S4 incorporates Qualcomm’s Secure MSM™. This is hardware and software-based security measures that provide features such as encrypted boot, secure code signing service, and Trustzone SEE.

ISP (Image Signal Processor)

The Image Signal Processor is the brains for Lumia 920’s Camera functions.  It delivers a tightly bound image processing package and has the capability to substantially improve overall mobile picture and video experience. An integrated ISP is also invaluable when it comes to things like instant image capture, active range-finding, high-resolution support, image stablization, and other image enhancements.

Connectivity Ingredients:

4 parts LTE Multimode Modem

2 parts GPS

1 part WiFi

1 part Bluetooth

1 part FM tuner

As you can see, there’s no fast food way to make something as deliciously effective as the Snapdragon S4. It takes incredible dedication, immense brainpower and all the right ingredients. We think the end result makes it all worthwhile, but what about you? Which Snapdragon S4 benefit do you find most mouth watering?

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