Qualcomm is targeting China and other emerging markets with a new midrange Snapdragon mobile chipset that features integrated 4G LTE and 64-bit capabilities.
Qualcomm officials said Dec. 9 that they will begin sampling the ARM-based Snapdragon 410 in the first half of 2014, with the chipset coming out in mobile devices in the second half of the year. The 28-nanometer chipsets will feature 64-bit processors, improved graphics via the Adreno 306 GPU and support for 1080p video playback.
The company also is planning to expand 64-bit capabilities throughout its Snapdragon chip portfolio, according to officials. Qualcomm is targeting the Snapdragon 410 at smartphones priced at less than $150, they said.
"The Snapdragon 410 chipset will also be the first of many 64-bit capable processors as Qualcomm Technologies helps lead the transition of the mobile ecosystem to 64-bit processing," Jeff Lorbeck, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Qualcomm in China, said in a statement.
The mobile world is quickly embracing 64-bit computing. Apple in October rolled out the iPhone 5S, which is powered by a 64-bit A7 processor, and officials said the same chip—also based on the ARM architecture—is running the new iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display. Since then, Samsung officials announced they will use 64-bit chips in their smartphones, and Qualcomm also said 64 bits was coming to its mobile chips.
However, soon after Apple announced the A7, Anand Chandrasekher, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Qualcomm, ridiculed the chip, reportedly calling it a "marketing gimmick" and saying that consumers would get no benefit from 64-bit chips. Chandrasekher, a former Intel executive, said that 64-bit was needed for addressing memory demands above 4GB. It isn't needed for performance, and most applications that need 64-bit chips are server-class workloads.
Chandrasekher was soon reassigned to another post within the company.
Intel is trying to gain momentum in the mobile space with its 64-bit Atom platform. The chip maker has begun shipping its XMM 7160 modem, a 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) chip that officials said will enable Intel to better compete with the likes of Qualcomm in the mobile space.
Qualcomm's Snapdragon 410 will come integrated with 4G LTE World Mode, as well as 3G connectivity for all primary modes and frequency bands worldwide. The chipsets also will feature WiFi, Bluetooth, FM and near-field communications (NFC) capabilities, and will support location technologies, including GPS, GLONASS and BeiDou, a new technology in China.
Qualcomm will support the chipset with reference design versions that will enable device makers to speed up development time and reduce R&D expenses, according to company officials. It will support Google's Android, Microsoft's Windows Phone and Firefox operating systems.
Qualcomm will bring 4G LTE connectivity to all of its Snapdragon chip, but is building out its midrange 400 product lineup with 4G LTE first to offer consumers in developing markets the ability to run on 2G and 3G networks while 4G gains momentum. It also gives device makers the ability to offer a range of smartphone options to consumers looking for lower-end devices, officials said.
The Snapdragon 410 is coming out less than a month after Qualcomm unveiled the high-end Snapdragon 805, which is designed to improve graphics and video on mobile devices.