MWC 2013 Exclusive: Dual-core ST Ericsson Novathor L8580 SoC crushes competition in benchmarks

We stopped by the ST-Ericsson booth earlier today to take a closer look at the Novathor L8580 system on chip (which was announced earlier this year at CES) and see how it will compete against the competition. Truth is that we were pleasantly surprised. What we saw was a working prototype of the chip that easily outperforms many all existing solutions on the market.

Pamela McCracken, Director, Public and Media relations Global communications at ST-Ericsson, explained that the L8580 is a dual-core solution, despite being name eQuad, and is the first chip to use a fully-depleted SOI technology process which allows it to run at up to 3GHz.

A continuous running test monitored by an infra-red reader showed that the 3GHz prototype smartphone remained cooler as it uses less energy and in some scenarios, it could add up to five hours battery life in a normal usage scenario.

A quick head-to-head comparison between the 3GHz prototype from ST-Ericsson and the HTC Butterfly, which is the top of the range handset from the manufacturer in the US, on the application launch time of a game called SkyCastle showe that ST-Ericsson's one was far quicker.

Indeed, according to ST-Ericsson, the game loads on the 3GHz prototype in just 9s compared to 18s for the S3 and the Nexus 4 and 21s for the One X. In a more resource hungry application like video transcoding (from full HD to 720p), the difference was smaller but still significant. The Nexus 4 is 60 per cent slower than the L8580 while the S3, which uses the Exynos 4412. It's worth bearing in mind that this chip uses ARM's Cortex-A9.

The application processor also comprises of a LTE multimode modem that supports up to 17 bands, a dual multimedia DSP and an Imagination Technologies PowerVR SGX544 GPU.

Ms McCracken confirmed that the first devices to run on the L8580 should reach the market in time for the next Mobile World Congress (i.e. as for the Nvidia Tegra 4i) and will target mainstream rather than the very top of the market. One has to wonder what would happen if ST-Ericsson chose to swap the A9 for an A15.