It all begins with Qualcomm’s annual tech event in Hawaii which they want us to tell you we were brought out to by them and how it won’t affect our analysis. It won’t, trust us. That said they don’t have the same requirement for analysts during the rest of the year who are literally paid by them because, oh you get it. That said, requirements fulfilled and on to the pictures.
Photography skills lacking, yes we are aware
As you can see above there are two new Qualcomm devices, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 phone chip and the Snapdragon X Elite Nuvia CPU/SoC, front and back. We will only be focusing on one aspect of the latter here, die size. Why? Mainly because the 8 Gen 3 isn’t delidded so not much you can glean even with a set of calipers. Also do note that due to some shenanigans by people last year, no not us we don’t play that game, these glass display blocks were riveted shut. I’ll leave it up to you to decide what happened last year.
So we took the pictures above and some that were far worse than that. Then we pulled out our trusty calipers, really, and watched the effect it had. To be honest the main thing the calipers did was cause the friendly Qualcomm PR man’s eyes to bug out of his head. Then he got confused but gave me to OK to measure the device. It was at that point I came to the realization that calipers were pretty much useless through large glass blocks, a good ruler would be easier to work with. So using badly eyeballed measurements we pegged the X Elite at 13 x 14 or 182 mm^2 which, spoiler alert, is too big.
That seemed to be the end of things until we got an opportunity for some quality time with a bare die, or at least bare in the sense of no glass block. So out came the calipers again and we measured… well that is where the next interesting bit comes in. But first some pictures.
Damn our eyeballs work good!
Not bad this way either
Not bad, pretty close to the eyeball figure but, well further off the mark than the advanced organic AI measuring technique. That works out to be 185.5mm^2 for those without a calculator handy. In case you are wondering, we measured then took the pics so don’t get too worried about the position of the calipers. That said we knew these numbers were still wrong.
It was at this point we realized the clever engineers at Qualcomm foresaw this caliper trick and took defensive measures to foil our grand plan. How? They made the top of the die flush with the package so you can’t get a grip on the die with the calipers. While some may intone there are good technical reasons to do this on a package for a Z-height limited device, we will pretend they did it just to make our life hard. In any case it did make our life hard. So in light of this we tried to come at it from a different angle as you can see below.
Different errors this way
Coming at it this way we got 12.49 x 13.19 or 164.74mm^2 which is also the wrong answer, too low. That said we have a range of sizes to work with and the right answer is somewhere between. We won’t say how we know but think low 170’s for the real answer. Do note that AMD’s Phoenix Point CPU is 178mm^2 so X Elite is smaller by a little on an equivalent process. If the early performance claims hold up, that could make for a very interesting battle next year.
Solid Z-Height number
Last up is that pesky Z-height thing we talked about earlier. All jokes aside the entire package is 1.05mm thick or pretty damn thin. We suspect Qualcomm hit the 1.00mm number and the rest is the calipers resting on the bumps but either way, that is an impressive number. Throw in a decent heatsink/fan like this and you are at a mere 166.05mm tall. Yes we are kidding but you could do something like that if you really wanted to, not sure why though.
So in the end we have a device that is really a pain in the proverbial backside to measure but we tried. The die size is between 165 and 182mm^2 but we are confident in saying the real answer likes in the low 170s. Lets go out on a limb and call it at 171 +/- 2mm^2. The thickness is also quite impressive being more akin to cell phone dimensions than PC CPU ones. Even with preliminary numbers in hand, this could be a device to watch.S|A
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