Qualcomm announces fancy Snapdragon S4 Pro

Qualcomm, the designer of the Snapdragon family of system-on-a-chip (SoC), has announced it is releasing an upgraded version to its already brand-new Snapdragon S4 SoC, called the S4 Pro, increasing graphics performance four-fold.

The Snapdragon S4 Pro (MSM8960, or “Krait”, if you like) will add some nifty tricks to the GPU side of things, most of which are being announced under the Windows 8 umbrella of FUD. The current Snapdragon S4 ships with an Adreno 225 chip, a small upgrade over its predecessor, which had failed to shock and awe partners. However, the newer-still S4 Pro will ship with an Adreno 320 GPU.

Qualcomm is pulling out all the stops and claiming the Adreno 320 will offer not only a four-fold increase in raw performance but also several Windows 8-oriented and graphics engine tweaks that will leave the competition eating the dust.

Among the tweaks we couldn’t help but notice the GPGPU-like features of the new Adreno core, that Qualcomm says is optimised for computational ability, under a unified shader architecture, with support for OpenCL. It also improves on Hardware-based 3D rendering with instancing, occlusion queries and multiple render targets. Basically, the graphics will look a whole lot better.

Qualcomm is expected to introduce quad-core versions of its S4 / S4 Pro SoC this year, also punched-up with Adreno 320 graphics.

Adreno, if you’re a desktop graphics enthusiast, is a successor to ATI’s old Imageon product, that AMD sold off to Qualcomm four years ago. So in essence, it has the roots of Radeon graphics products.