Qualcomm Unveils New Snapdragon, Networking Chips

By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 2013-11-20

Qualcomm Unveils New Snapdragon, Networking Chips

Qualcomm is bringing high-quality video, imaging and graphics to smartphones and other devices with the latest addition to its line of Snapdragon 800 processors. At the same time, the company is introducing a new chipset aimed at the growing Internet of things.

The announcements were among several made Nov. 20 by Qualcomm officials during the company's meeting with analysts in New York.

Qualcomm has begun sampling its ARM-based quad-core Snapdragon 805 mobile chip that includes an improved CPU design based on the company's Krait architecture and is armed with its latest Adreno graphics processing unit.

The result is a much faster chip that will enable smartphones and tablets to run mobile video, imaging and graphics at Ultra HD 4K resolution, both on the device and when hooked up to Ultra HD television sets, according to the company.

"Using a smartphone or tablet powered by Snapdragon 805 processor is like having an UltraHD home theater in your pocket, with 4K video, imaging and graphics, all built for mobile," Murthy Renduchintala, executive vice president of Qualcomm subsidiary Qualcomm Technologies and co-president of Qualcomm, said in a statement.

The new chip features the Adreno 420 GPU, which company officials said offers up to 40 percent more graphics processing power than its predecessor and combines with other capabilities—including Ultra HD support, 4K video capture and playback, and improved dual-camera Image Signal Processors (ISPs)—to bring greater performance and power efficiency.

The CPU is based on the Krait architecture, and each of the four cores can run as fast as 2.5GHz. The chip also offers memory bandwidth support of up to 25.6G bps, which officials said will greatly improve multimedia and Web browsing capabilities. The Snapdragon 805 also integrates with Qualcomm's Gobi MDM9x25 or MDM9x35 modem, which will offer greater connectivity than other Snapdragon chips, officials said.

The Gobi MDM9x25 chipset, introduced in February, supports 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) aggregation with a peak data rate of up to 150M bps. The Gobi 9x35 chipset was announced Nov. 20. With the two modems, Qualcomm is enabling mobile device users the capability of addressing the growing flavors of 4G LTE networks that are being built.

In addition, the Snapdragon 805 also will let users better leverage WiFi networks, according to Qualcomm officials. The chip will integrate with Qualcomm's two-stream dual-band VIVE 802.11ac, enabling smartphones and tablets to leverage mobile WiFi that is faster than 600M bps, as well as video streaming and concurrent Bluetooth connections, without harming battery life.

The Snapdragon 805 is sampling with manufacturers and will begin appearing on the market in mobile devices in the first half of 2014, company officials said.


Qualcomm Unveils New Snapdragon, Networking Chips

In addition, another Qualcomm subsidiary, Qualcomm Atheros, unveiled the Qualcomm Internet Processor (IPQ), a chipset aimed at devices in the house that can connect to the Internet, including home gateways, routers and media servers. These devices can become platforms for what company officials are calling "Smarthomes."

"Just as Qualcomm helped propel the smartphone experience and ecosystem, we are now employing the company's mobile DNA to enable the Smarthome as a platform to deliver an advanced class of content, applications and services that can be enjoyed throughout the home," Qualcomm Atheros President Amir Faintuch said in a statement. "Qualcomm is bringing together its mobile and networking expertise in the Internet Processor to extend its portfolio and enable new capabilities for network platforms."

The chipset not only will let device OEMs add such capabilities to their products in areas such as home automation and personal clouds, but also will enable service providers to offer even more content, applications and services—such as security and surveillance—to their customers, according to company officials.

Qualcomm bought Atheros in 2011 for $3.1 billion to extend its reach into home devices, networking and other areas. Qualcomm's Smarthome platform includes a dual-core 1.4GHz Krait CPU and Qualcomm Atheros' networking chip technologies—including the new dual-core 730 MHz Packet Processing Engine. The IPQ will enable more appliances in the home to be networked and connected to the Internet, which is the essence of the Internet of things.

Other chip makers also see opportunities in the Internet of things. Intel is building out a new line of low-power systems-on-a-chip (SoCs), called Quark, which will aim at such areas as the Internet of things and wearable devices. Advanced Micro Devices is rapidly growing out its embedded chip portfolio, and ARM officials see the Internet of things as a natural fit for their low-power processors. In March, ARM announced its energy-efficient Cortex-MO+ chip for the IoT. In August, the company bought Sensinode Oy, which made software for the IoT.

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