Windows 8 "bloat" prompts Qualcomm GPU search

A new report indicates that Qualcomm has decided to use an Imagination GPU for its quad-core S4 mobile Snapdragon chips.

According to SemiAccurate, the decision was prompted by the imminent arrival of Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 operating system, which targets tablets and PCs alike, albeit with separate x86 and ARM builds. 

“[Yes], the current Qualcomm GPU is fine for Android and related mobile OSes, but the bloat of Windows on ARM (WARM) requires a higher DX level than Adreno to make things tolerable,” Silicon Valley tech guru Charlie Demerjian wrote in a recent analysis. 

“Tolerable to the MS that is, the rest of the world doesn’t actually need all the leakage from the otherwise useless transistors. Since MS has never, and shows no signs of ever making clean code, Qualcomm had two options for WARM, a ‘modern’ GPU or never get MS’s seal of approval.”

Demerjian claims that Qualcomm was faced with the choice of developing their own DXmoremodern GPU or simply licensing one. Unsurprisingly, Qualcomm was forced to abandon the former option, says Demerjian, as Microsoft’s WARM requirements would inevitably lead to massive die bloat and leakage.

“[Sure], Qualcomm could [have] taken Krait and hobble it on both cost and power fronts to please Microsoft like Nvidia did with Tegra, or they could wisely skip out on it and have a competitive chip for Android and every other OS out there.

“Instead of picking one, Qualcomm decided to split the difference, the dual core uses the much saner Adreno GPU, and quad-core WARM oriented part will have a MS pleasing monster.”

Demerjian also noted that Imagination’s GPU was simply a temporary “stopgap” measure for WARM-oriented components until Qualcomm’s internal GPU efforts ramped up.

“The only remaining question is what Imagination GPU Qualcomm is using, 5- or 6-series,” he explained.

“No one is directly telling us which way it will go, but we doubt that it will be a 6-series/Rogue GPU for time and cost reasons. Pairing Krait/S4 with Rogue would be a seriously powerful match, but in the end, a big 5-series GPU will probably surface in the quad-core parts later this year.”