Benchmarks reveal that the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 uses a Marvell chip

BY Stefan Constantinescu

Published 1 May 2013

When Samsung announced the Galaxy Tab 3 earlier this week, they said it was running a dual core 1.2 GHz chip. Most people, myself included, automatically assumed that said chip would be provided either by Qualcomm or Broadcom, but apparently that assumption was incorrect.

According to a GLBenchmark that was spotted by GSMArena, the Tab 3 uses a Marvell PXA986. Now I haven’t heard of this chip, mainly because I don’t track Marvell, so I did a bit of Googling. The PXA986 was announced in August of last year. It has two ARM Cortex A9 cores, an unnamed GPU, and here’s the interesting part: You can buy it with one of two modems. The PXA986 ships with a 21 megabit per second HSPA+ modem, but you can also buy the PXA988, which supports China’s TD-SCDMA networking standard.

This leads me to believe that the Tab 3 will be highly targeted towards at the Chinese market. It’ll no doubt come to other countries, but it’s China (and other Asian countries) where people don’t seem to mind making phone calls on tablets. I can tell you from personal experience that I’ve seen quite a few Galaxy Tabs out in the wild during my trip through South East Asia. People there have no shame about holding it up to their head.

Ultimately though, the big question is why did Samsung decide to go with yet another SoC vendor? I’m thinking they got a better price from Marvell than from Qualcomm, who makes radios that support TD-SCDMA, but they probably charge an arm and a leg for them.