Microsoft, Motorola, Others Throw Support Behind Qualcomm

A half-dozen smartphone makers, including LG, Xiaomi and Sony Mobile, say they will use Qualcomm's Snapdragon 810 chip despite Samsung's snub.


Qualcomm, which may have lost Samsung as a customer for its new Snapdragon 810 premium mobile processor, is getting vocal support from an array of mobile device makers, including Microsoft, LG Electronics and Xiaomi.

Qualcomm officials have released statements from a half-dozen smartphone makers that tout the Snapdragon 810's performance, wireless connectivity and graphics capabilities. Microsoft officials confirmed that the software company would leverage the chip in its upcoming Lumia devices, noting the two companies' "longstanding collaboration."

"We look forward to continuing this relationship to deliver best-in-class Lumia smartphones, powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 810 processors, and offer an unprecedented combination of processing power, rich multimedia, high-performance graphics and wireless connectivity for our customers," Juha Kokkonen, general manager for portfolio and product management at Microsoft, said in a statement released Feb. 2.

Qualcomm officials last week said they were pleased with the Snapdragon 810's performance in the marketplace, despite reports last month that Samsung opted to pass on the mobile chip for its upcoming Galaxy S6 smartphone, deciding instead to use its own ARM-based Exynos chips. The device maker reportedly was concerned about overheating issues with the Qualcomm processor.

However, in a conference call with analysts and journalists to discuss the latest quarterly financial numbers, CEO Steve Mollenkopf admitted that the Snapdragon 810 would not be used "in the upcoming design cycle of a large customer's flagship device," though he declined to name the customer.

However, Mollenkopf said the chip was "actually doing quite well. Any concerns about the 810 in terms of design traction really are probably limited to one OEM versus anything else."

He and other Qualcomm officials have said that more than 60 "premium-tier mobile devices" will be powered by the Snapdragon 810, and that they expect more design wins to pop up during the year. They pointed initially to LG's G Flex 2 and Xiaomi's Mi Note Pro, and now other device vendors—including Lenovo's Motorola Mobility subsidiary, Sony Mobile and International Mobile Business—are adding their support.

"The Snapdragon 810 processor will enable us to push the boundaries even further so we can continue delighting our customers with devices that give them new choices," Motorola Mobility President Rick Osterloh said.

"We make every effort to bring the newest and most innovative technology to our enthusiastic customers, drawing on the best in the industry," Xiaomi Chairman and CEO Lei Jun said. "Our collaboration with Qualcomm Technologies on the Snapdragon 810-powered Mi Note Pro provides us the ability to deliver more performance, features and user capabilities to a mobile device than ever before. This is what our customers want and what Xiaomi will deliver with the Snapdragon 810."

During the conference call last week, Mollenkopf said that after the Snapdragon 810, Qualcomm will return to leveraging its own custom 64-bit ARM-based CPU design. To accelerate the adoption of 64-bit capabilities, Qualcomm used ARM's system-on-a-chip (SoC) design for the Snapdragon 810. The chip leverages ARM's big.Little architecture—which uses a combination of high-performance and low-power cores—which offers users performance or power efficiency, depending on the workload.

Now that Qualcomm has a 64-bit chip on the market, the company's next Snapdragon chips will be built using its own design leveraging the ARM architecture it has licensed.

"The use of internally designed custom CPUs has been a core part of our strategy that has worked well for some time," Mollenkopf said. "With the 810, we made a conscious decision to use licensed cores to accommodate the accelerated shift to 64-bit. The competitive landscape has underscored the importance of differentiation associated with our internal custom designs and, looking ahead, our next premium processor will use our own 64-bit custom CPU architecture as well as the most advanced process node."

The Snapdragon 820 should start sampling in the second half of the year, he said.