Qualcomm gave a deep insight into the Snapdragon S4 at the end of the week with a white paper. The chips, built on a much denser and more efficient 28 nanometer process, will start at 1.5GHz and peak at the promised 2.5GHz. At least in quad-core versions, the refinements and dual-channel memory should make it as much as 60 percent faster, even as it uses 25 to 40 percent less power.
Graphics should also be much better: the Adreno 225 should be about 50 percent faster than the Adreno 220 used today. Its visual effects will be fast advanced enough to draw DirectX 9.3-level video, or enough for the first Windows 8 tablets.
As a full system on a chip, it will have cellular connections built-in and should be the first mobile chip with LTE built in, not just attached through a chipset. Just the one chip will also handle CDMA and GSM for voice as well as EVDO and HSPA for 3G.
The first S4-equipped devices should show as soon as early 2012 and should include tablets as well as high-end smartphones. HTC is one of Qualcomm's favorite customers. Apple custom-designs its chips and won't use the S4 itself, although it should use dedicated modem chipsets related to the Snapdragon in future iPads and iPhones.