Answer by Jason Yeaman:
The processor is great. It would probably out perform the A8 on an evaluation board running a linpack
But Qualcomm doesn’t design it for a specific hardware platform. It is built for compatibility. Like windows, it is built to be all things for everyone. So there has to be a layer for ‘everyone’ to place their own instructions to translate how the operating system will manage the other hardware.
When you put layers between the developer and the hardware, clock cycles and system resources are consumed on the overhead of trying to get components speaking the same language.
Just like crappy employees who sit around yapping instead of working, crappy hardware, firmware and software integration is just as inefficient.