Qualcomm officials came to CES 2016 this week armed with products to power the growing number of smart devices and systems and the technologies to connect them.
The company unveiled the Snapdragon 820A for the connected car market and demonstrated Snapdragon Flight, a board aimed at the booming drone space. In addition, Qualcomm introduced a smart home reference platform based on its Snapdragon 212 processor. The platform offers everything from computing, voice recognition, audio, a camera and capabilities for home control hubs. OEMs can use the platform to accelerate the development of smart home systems.
Qualcomm also launched the Bluetooth Smart 4.2 system-on-a-chip (SoC) lineup, the CSR102x family, which balances performance, battery life and cost and is designed for such Internet of things (IoT) applications as wireless remote controls, smartwatches and home automation offerings.
"Consumers expect enhanced functionality from their products with constant connectivity and infrequent recharging—a challenging task for product developers," Anthony Murray, senior vice president and general manager of Internet of everything (IoE) at Qualcomm, said in a statement. "We continuously look to address key customer and developer challenges—like constant connectivity, enhanced functionality, and even-lower battery consumption—with deeply integrated custom platforms like the CSR102x family."
Qualcomm is the world's largest provider of mobile processors for such devices as smartphones and tablets. However, the company is making an aggressive push to expand the reach of its technologies into emerging markets where performance, power efficiency, cost and connectivity are key, including the IoT, connected cars, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), wearables and other smart devices. For Qualcomm, that means providing products that not only power the systems, but also connect them.
"Connectivity is ubiquitous," Rahul Patel, senior vice president and general manager of connectivity at Qualcomm, told eWEEK in an interview as the company was preparing for CES.
The growing demand for a better, more immersive mobile user experience requires connectivity that is everywhere, spans across networks and offers continuity, but also the ability for the network to automatically select the best link for the application that is running, Patel said. At the heart of all the connectivity in the smart home will be WiFi, and at CES, Qualcomm introduced new products in that area.
The company launched its WiFi SON (self-organizing network), which officials said will bring a cellular-level experience to WiFi networks. The idea behind a SON is a network that is self-configuring, self-healing, self-managing and self-defending. It enables plug-and-play deployment and autonomous performance optimization. It can automatically detect and resolve issues around bottlenecks in connectivity as well as defend against unauthorized access. It's a WiFi network that can learn as it goes and adapts to what's happening.
"It's optimized for the best user experience," Patel said.
Qualcomm's WiFi SON technology is available now for OEMs to integrate into such products as smart gateways, wireless routers, range extenders and access points. Several device makers are using it now, including Airtight, D-Link, Linksys, Asus and TP-Link.
Qualcomm, through its Atheros subsidiary, also is embracing 802.11ad, the latest and fastest WiFi standard that will enable much faster data-transfer speed (as much as 7G bps) than the current 802.11n (600M bps). It also offers up to 4.6G-bps PHY and 60GHz spectrum to WiFi, as well as higher capacity, a high density of connections and up to five times lower power per bit. It enables a range of use cases, such as lag-free docking, 4K streaming to multiple devices, almost instant access to multimedia and fast upload and download times.
The vendor is offering a number of products—including Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 820 processor, Qualcomm Internet Processor 8064 reference designs and its QCA9500 802.11ad chipset—that device makers can use to bring 802.11ad connectivity to their products.
A number of vendors already are planning to roll out offerings this year that use 802.11ad. Chinese device maker Letv is expecting to launch smartphones that support 802.11ad connectivity, while Acer and Asus will support it in notebooks. NEC, Elecom and TP-Link will offer 802.11ad-enable access points, and SiBeam and Peraso Technologies will roll out adapters.
"WiFi has become the lifeline of enterprise and carrier networks today," Mamoru Nagatani, vice president of platforms for NEC, said in a statement. "802.11ad, through its multi-gigabit speeds and significant increase in capacity, can revolutionize enterprise WiFi connectivity."