Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Family Is on a Roll, Moving to 1.5 GHz

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While making another big international splash with its first-generation Snapdragon chipset at the Computex tradeshow this week, Qualcomm also announced shipment to manufacturers of third-generation, dual-CPU chipsets for use in future high-end smartphones, smartbooks and tablet PCs demanding faster processing and low power consumption.

During the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas earlier this year, Qualcomm’s partner Google unveiled the HTC-manufactured Nexus One, and powered by a Snapdragon processor. And this chip has become part of a range of other high-end smartphones from HTC.

For its part, Lenovo released the Snapdragon-based LePhone into the Chinese marketplace. Qualcomm also demo’d prototypes of phones based on its Anchorage and Fairbanks reference designs for Snapdragon.

A couple of months later, Huawei got plenty of limelight at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain with the rollout of its Snapdragon-based Smakit S7 tablet.

Moving Forward
At Computex this week, Qualcomm is showing off a plethora of Snapdragon gadgets, both shipping and in various stages of development. “We have a wide range of commercial and prototype devices based on first-gen QSD8250 and QSD8650 Snapdragon solutions, as well as development devices using MSM7x30,” noted Kira Golin, a Qualcomm spokesperson.

Commercial products on display in the booth include Dell’s Streak 5 voice-enabled Android tablet, HP’s Compaq Airlife 100 smartbook, and smartphones such as HTC’s Droid Incredible and Acer’s Liquid and neoTouch, according to Golin.

Already available in Europe, the Dell Streak “voice-enabled tablet,” aka the Mini 5, features a 5-inch scratch-resistant capacitive touchscreen, a UMTS/HSPA modem with voice calling functionality, a 5 megapixel rear camera, and a VGA front-facing camera for videoconferencing. Speaking at the Citrix Synergy Conference in mid-May, Dell CEO Michael Dell said that AT&T will start selling the Streak in the US this summer.

The two Snapdragon phones from HTC are both already shipping in the US. This week, Rogers Communications launched the Acer Liquid in Canada.

Sampling to manufacturers since the fourth quarter of 2008, the first-gen QSD8250 and QSD8650 chips integrate a 1 GHz processor, a cellular modem, and GPS. Other phones based on the 1GHz Snapdragon chips include Toshiba’s TG01, the LG eXpo, the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10, and the HTC EVO 4G, for example.

First-Third Generation Snapdragons
Also at Computex, Qualcomm is showing development devices using the MSM7x30 chip family announced by Qualcomm last November. The MSM7x30 chips use the same ARM-based Scorpion applications processor as the QSD8250/QSD8650 Snapdragon chips, while adding 5.1 channel sound and more powerful graphics capabilities, including 12 megapixel camera support and 720p high-definition (HD) video encode/decode.

Meanwhile, Qualcomm’s second-gen MSM8x55 and QSD8x50A processors are already shipping in volume to OEMs, and are slated to appear in devices released by the end of this year, Golin said. The QSD8x50A reportedly runs at 1.3GHz, with 30 percent less power consumption than the first-gen QSD8250/QSD8650 chips.

Now, two of Samsung’s third-gen, dual-CPU Snapdragon processors have just started sampling among manufacturers. Qualcomm expects that the third-gen chips will show up in smartphones and tablets which will reach commercial availability some time during the first half of next year.

Running at up to 1.2 GHz, the latest, third-gen Snapdragon chipsets — the MSM8260 for HSPA+ and MSM8660 for multi-mode HSPA + CDMA/2000 1xEV-DO Rev B — run at up to 1.2 GHz.

Combining two processors, each chipset includes integrated low-power GPS, a low-power audio engine, and an advanced GPU with support for 1080p high definition (HD) video encoding /decoding and Open GLES 2.0 and Open VG 1.1 graphics acceleration. The two chipsets support 24-bit WXGA 1280 x 800 resolution displays.

The QSD6672, another third-gen dual-CPU Snapdragon chipset from Qualcomm, runs at up to 1.5 GHz, according to Golin.

“[The third-generation Snapdragon technology] translates to much higher processing capabilities and more advanced functionality without sacrifices to size or battery life,” Qualcomm’s Golin contended.




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