Qualcomm Makes Three Pre-MWC Announcements
2/20/2013 by: Anshel Sag
In a clear effort to create added value to devices using their processors, Qualcomm today made two announcements that are intended to improve the user experience. The first announcement comes in the form of Snapdragon Voice Activation. Snapdragon Voice Activation will first be integrated into Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 SoC and is an always-on, low-power listening feature that is designed to always be listening for your voice.
Snapdragon Voice Activation is a new addition to Qualcomm’s already existing Fluence PRO suite of integrated audio solutions.
This enables any Snapdragon 800 based device to be brought out of sleep mode by a custom voice command set by the device’s manufacturer. Once that key phrase is uttered the phone gives the device access to the manufacturer’s suite of voice commands even if it is in sleep mode or airplane mode. Optimally, this feature would be most useful when the device is connected to Wi-Fi or 3G and able to execute certain searches and commands using Google’s voice search. However, since Snapdragon isn’t unique to only Android, there’s a possibility that such a technology could be found in future Windows Phone devices as well.
Qualcomm touts the security and low-power friendliness of this solution because they are able to authenticate using the person’s voice and special passphrase. Admittedly, we’d be tempted to test out this feature on our own and see how difficult it may be to spoof. While very little is talked about Qualcomm’s ability to deliver low-power always-on microphone detection, it may be a bit concerning for some to think that their phones are always listening to what they’re saying. While Qualcomm probably doesn’t want to talk about the potential implications of having an always-on microphone, it can be terrifying for some to think that someone could hack into their phone and be constantly listening into what they’re doing.
Nevertheless, forgetting this disaster scenario, Qualcomm has also released an update to their Quick Charge solution with Quick Charge 2.0. The original version launched in 70 different devices last year and enabled smartphones and tablets to charge 40% faster. This new version will be offered as both a standalone IC solution or as an integrated solution as part of the Snapdragon 800 SoC. Qualcomm has bumped the speed of charging to 75% compared to non-Quick Charge solutions. Quick Charge 2.0 devices and chargers will be backwards compatible with Quick Charge 1.0 solutions, however the full performance gains of 2.0 will require both a QC2.0 devices and chargers to get the 75% improvement.
Finally, Qualcomm also revealed the Snapdragon 400 and 200 processors. Finally, simplifying the god awful naming scheme from when Qualcomm attempted to rebrand all of their Snapdragons to more consumer friendly names by naming them S1, S2, S3, S4 and having sub categories within them. This simply just made things more confusing than anything. Going to a more simple naming scheme will be good for the Snapdragon brand and it will be easier for us press to explain exactly which chip we’re talking about.
Now, the Snapdragon 400 family will feature a dual core Krait based processor with a clock speed of 1.7GHz and a quad core Coretex-A7 with a clock speed of 1.4 GHz. It will feature the Adreno 305 GPU and have integrated 3G, but no 4G features. This chip will clearly be targeted towards a more global audience where LTE is not prevalent enough, but people still want fast dual and quad core chips in their phones. It will support LPDDR2 and LPDDR3 RAM in order to allow for enough memory bandwidth in tablets and such. It will support cameras up to 13.5 megapixels and support 1080P video capture and playback. The Snapdragon 400 family will feature the part numbers 8226, 8626, 8230, 8630, 8930, 8030AB, 8230AB, 8630AB and 8930AB. These will likely be preceded by an MSM or APQ when referring to a specific model.
The Snapdragon 200 family will feature quad core Coretex-A5 cores at up to 1.4 GHz as well as a Hexagon™ QDSP5. Three Hexagon DSPs are usually found in a single MSM8960, so you can see how this is a cost-down part. It also features an Adreno 203 GPU, which is from a significantly older generation of Qualcomm GPUs considering that the Snapdragon 800 features an Adreno 330. It will support LPDDR2 RAM as well as HD video playback (1080P not mentioned, so likely 720P). It will also have CDMA multimode/UMTS modem options, which once again indicates an emerging market target. It will have a high-accuracy GPS, which is almost standard in smartphones nowadays as well as 8 megapixel camera support. The Snapdragon 200 will also have Multi-SIM capability with Dual SIM Dual Standby, this feature is common in emerging markets like China and India and clearly indicates the target market for this chip it wasn’t already obvious. The Snapdragon 200 family will feature two SKUs, the 8225Q and 8625Q which, since they feature modems will likely start out with an MSM prefix to indicate modem integration.
Qualcomm, Snapdragon, Snapdragon Voice Activation, Quick Charge 2.0, AC, DC, Charging, Charger, Adreno 203, Adreno 330, Adreno 305, Snapdragon 400, Snapdragon 200, 8226, 8626, 8230, 8630, 8930, 8030AB, 8230AB, 8630AB,
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