It isn’t really much of a surprise that Qualcomm is getting into the automotive business with their Snapdragon processors. We first reported that they would make a major infotainment push at CES and they did, and at MWC 2014 they’ve shown considerable progress since then. We had a chance to sit down and talk with Qualcomm’s Nakul Duggal to talk more about the automotive infotainment and whole vehicle solutions that they were working on. At Mobile World Congress 2014 we were shown two systems, one running on Android and another running on QNX. Both systems were running on Qualcomm’s development platform in one way or another but simply running different software. In both cases, the reference platform was Qualcomm’s APQ8064 SoC powering at least two displays.
First, we got a chance to look at Qualcomm’s Android Automotive platform running two different displays. We asked them all about the platform and were told that it was a fully internally created solution from top to bottom. The demonstration that we were given was a combination of a single display driving the car’s head unit while the second was running a high quality Android game running at 720P and fairly decent quality. Below, we’ve got a video of the whole experience as well, so you can hear it from Nakul yourself.
Following that, we were taken over to Qualcomm’s own vehicle which is a modified Mercedes Benz vehicle that has a completely replaced infotainment system and head unit. In this demo, we got a chance to see a full car experience with a hybrid solution that combined both touch and a turn dial to control the interface. And I must say, it was very visually appealing and feels futuristic beyond anything currently available in modern cars. If such concepts are adopted in the future we could see ourselves with more and more touch surface area on vehicles very soon.
After getting that lengthy demo, it definitely appears to be clear that Qualcomm’s relationship and experience with QNX is fairly strong. And when you consider that manufacturers like Ford are switching to QNX this could be significantly opportunity for Qualcomm as a potential customer. There is also an expectation that Qualcomm will be able to get their chips into shipping models by 2016, which could either be model year 2016 or model year 2017 vehicles. But if you look at the overall length of the automotive development cycle, it seems likely that we will see Qualcomm SoCs in model year 2017 vehicles, even though by then they won’t be anywhere as fast as what will be shipping in smartphones by then. Hopefully, when they do ship, it will be with a more updated platform than the APQ8064 automotive platform currently available.