Can it match the performance of A12Z? SQ1 status may not be optimistic

Although the new iPad Pro is a product that Apple quietly put on the shelves a few days ago, it did not even have a press conference. But its A12Z bionic chip not only overpowers a large number of Android mobile phone SoCs, it may not even look at the Qualcomm Snapdragon 875 and Apple A14 in the second half of the year.

So is there really no single ARM processor that can compete with it? It may not be in the mobile phone, but the computer may not be there, it is the Microsoft SQ1 customized by Microsoft at Qualcomm.

Microsoft SQ1 (hereinafter referred to as SQ1) is a processor customized by Microsoft for its Surface Pro X, which can be regarded as the magic modification of Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx. The latter is a product that Qualcomm previously introduced for Winodows 10 notebooks. The performance of the mobile phone platform is naturally not up to date.

Compared with 8cx, SQ1 has a higher CPU and GPU frequency and integrates an X24 LTE modem. Below are the parameters of this product.

According to Qualcomm, the performance of the SQ1 is similar to that of the Intel Core 8th-generation Core i5 U series (such as the i5-8250U), and the Adreno 685 adopted by the GPU is also a specially customized product.

Microsoft said that this GPU can achieve 2TFLOPS floating-point computing power (hereinafter referred to as computing power), and the Adreno 650 powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 865, which is currently widely used in flagship Android phones, is only 1TFLOPS.

Relying on the advantages of TSMC's 7nm process and ARM architecture, the SQ1 enables the Surface Pro X to have a very good performance in standby, and at the same time, it can use standby to replace frequent switching on and off.

Why don't PC makers use it?

Looking back at the above parameters, the 3GHz CPU frequency and GPU with computing power up to 2TFLOPS have also surpassed the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950. Coupled with the advantages of power saving and standby, it is completely possible to become the "God U" of a generation of PCs.

However, most of the current software for Windows 10 is optimized for the x86 platform. Performance optimization on the ARM platform is trivial and may not even run directly. In other words, you buy an i7 home, and as a result, it does not even perform as well as i3 in many software …

In other words, you can buy a Windows 10 notebook with SQ1 processor, which may have good battery life, can be connected to LTE network at any time, and the performance may be excellent. But it has a lot of software that doesn't work, and the price may not be cheap.

Below are the prices for the Surface Pro X and Pro 7 with 8GB RAM and 256GB storage. In the case of eliminating the gap in positioning, the former is still 1,000 yuan (USD $143) more expensive than the latter, so the SQ1 processor is more like a pawn for Microsoft to promote the ARM platform, rather than a product widely used by more PC manufacturers.

Of course, it must be acknowledged that under the blessing of ARM and Qualcomm baseband, SQ1 brings many unique selling points to computers. These may be learned by the X86 platform. For example, Intel has previously announced that it will jointly launch MediaTek with processors that support 5G network connections.

It is also possible for more developers to see the strengths of the ARM platform, thereby facilitating software adaptation. When software and performance are gradually not a problem, perhaps more convenient network connection and better battery life can become a big selling point of notebook products based on ARM platform, but certainly not now.

Can mobile phones and tablets work?

If the computer is currently unavailable, can the phone and tablet be used?

First of all, it must be determined that mobile phones will definitely not work, because the higher frequency of SQ1 means increased power consumption and heat generation, and the limited size and battery of smartphones will inevitably fail to meet the above requirements.

For example, installing SQ1 into a mobile phone is like Apple's iPhone A12Z processor, but the latter may not be comparable to the A14.

As for the Android tablet, let's not say whether the SQ1 or 8cx supports the Android system, but according to the status quo, it is unlikely.

First of all, the current system ecology of the Android tablet may not need such powerful performance. It does not have the games and professional software that require higher system resources on the iPad. In addition, Android tablets can't afford the price of Surface Pro X.

Looking ahead, with the upgrade of architecture and technology, there will be more mobile phone SoCs (such as Qualcomm Snapdragon 895, etc.) over SQ1. Of course, there may be products such as SQ2 and SQ3, but if the Android tablet still can't get out of the current software limitation, these processors will never be used.

Summary: Ideas are good, and they always have

Summarize the current situation of SQ1, the performance is remarkable, with low power consumption and continuous networking features. But as a piece of Microsoft's promotion of the ARM platform, its compatibility is still a big problem.

In contrast, the original positioning of the iPad was neither a phone nor a computer. The iPad Pro looked more like a notebook after adding keyboard and mouse operations, but there were also fundamental differences. In addition, the software and hardware inheritance between iOS and iPad OS and the blessing of the ARM architecture make the A12Z not have such high adaptation pressure.

Perhaps the actual performance of the SQ series will be more dazzling after the ecology is no longer a problem in the future, and it will really become a choice for many users who have high requirements for portability and battery life, but this is all for the future