Home » SoC » Next-gen Snapdragon S4 class SoCs — exploiting TSMC’s 28nm process first — coming in December

Next-gen Snapdragon S4 class SoCs — exploiting TSMC’s 28nm process first — coming in December

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Core information:

Preliminary information: TSMC led foundries and their SoC customers against Intel [May 10, 2011]
Qualcomm Snapdragon SoCs with a new way of easy identification [Aug 4, 2011]

Updates: TSMC seeing tight capacity for 28nm processes [Nov 25, 2011]

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) continues to see orders heat up for advanced 28nm technology, despite a general slowdown in the semiconductor industry, according to industry sources. Order visibility has stretched to about six months, said the sources.

TSMC is expected to see 28nm processes account for more than 2% of company revenues in the fourth quarter of 2011. The proportion will expand further to over 10% in 2012, as more available capacity coupled with rising customer demand boost the output, the sources indicated.

Wafer output using 28nm processes is projected to top 20,000 units a month by the end of 2011, and will expand significantly in 2012 when new capacity at Fab 15 comes online, the sources noted. Fab 15, TSMC’s third 12-inch fab, will begin volume production in the first quarter of 2012, and ultimately raise its monthly capacity to the designed level of 100,000 wafers per month.

Altera, AMD, Nvidia, Qualcomm and Xilinx have all contracted TSMC to manufacture their 28nm products. Broadcom, LSI Logic and STMicroelectronics reportedly are among potential clients for TSMC’s 28nm technology.

TSMC chairman and CEO Morris Chang remarked during the company’s most-recent investors meeting that sales from 28nm process technology would play an important source of company growth.

Smartphones, Microsoft Driving Qualcomm Business: CEO [CNBC interview, Nov 16, 2011]

The popularity of smartphones and its partnership with Microsoft have been very good for Qualcomm’s chip business, CEO Paul Jacobs said Wednesday.

Jacobs, speaking to CNBC after he met with analysts in New York, said a lot of Qualcomm’sgrowth is driven by the worldwide popularity of smartphones.

He estimates four billion smartphones will be sold between now and 2015, and that means a lot of “traction with our chips, too, going in all sorts of designs.”

The tablet market has been dominated by Apple’s iPad, but he said Microsoft will be using Qualcomm chips for a new touch-screen tablet.

Microsoft has a lot of assets they bring to the table,” he said. “It’s a full computing environment, the kind we’re all used to. It’s gonna have Office and that kind of capability, those applications, but it’s got this really cool new touch interface, too.”

That will allow Microsoft “to compete head to head” with Apple and other tablet makers.

“The kinds of technology that go into a handset these days are amazing,” Jacobs added. “That stuff will go into Windows tablets” creating a “new kind of computing environment.”

[A 6 minutes long video record of the interview included, which is worth to watch.]

Qualcomm Unveils New Snapdragon Mobile Processors Across All Tiers of Smartphones and Tablets [Qualcomm press release, Nov 16, 2011]

Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM) announced today the expansion of its Snapdragon S4 class of next-generation mobile processors and the enhancement of its Snapdragon S1 solutions for entry-level smartphones.

The addition of new Snapdragon S4 processors, which are aimed at lowering design, engineering and inventory costs while bringing leading-edge 3G and 4G Internet connection speeds, will allow OEMs to introduce S4-based devices with next-generation mobile architecture throughout their respective device roadmaps—from basic smartphones to high-end smartphones and tablets. The enhanced S4 processors are also optimized for use with a suite of software solutions available from Qualcomm that help enable OEMs to deliver industry-leading feature sets for multimedia, connectivity, camera, display, security, power management, browsing and natural user interface design.

The Krait CPU is the next generation of Qualcomm’s micro architecture and is purpose-built from the ground up for significant mobile performance and power management advantages leading to enhanced user experience and better battery life. The Krait CPU is an essential part of the Snapdragon S4 class of processors. Today, Qualcomm announced several new S4 chipsets, including the MSM8660A, MSM8260A, MSM8630, MSM8230, MSM8627, MSM8227, APQ8060A and APQ8030. These are additional chipsets to the previously announced MSM8960, MSM8930 and APQ8064. Snapdragon S4 MSM processors include Qualcomm’s leading-edge wireless modem technologies, including EV-DO, HSPA+, TD-SCDMA, LTE FDD, LTE TDD and Wi-Fi® standards. Devices based on Snapdragon S4 processors are expected to appear in early 2012.

The Snapdragon S1 product line is driving smartphone growth in all regions, and it offers a significant opportunity for market expansion and migration to 3G. To further this trend, Qualcomm is also announcing an upgrade to four of its existing Snapdragon S1 mobile processors. The MSM7225A, MSM7625A, MSM7227A and MSM7627A have been upgraded to deliver better performance and will enable new mobile experiences for entry-level smartphone users, particularly those transitioning from 2G to 3G.

Qualcomm Announces Snapdragon GameCommand Application and Exclusive Mobile Games for Android [Qualcomm press release, Nov 16, 2011]

… announced today the expansion of its 100+ games Snapdragon GamePack and launch of a new showcase application — Snapdragon™ GameCommand™ — further bolstering the supply of console-quality and casual games for mobile devices featuring Snapdragon processors. The new gaming titles being introduced as part of the extended Snapdragon GamePack and the new Snapdragon GameCommand app are all expected to hit the Android Market in early 2012. Additions to the Snapdragon GamePack include several new, exclusive gaming titles that will be available through the Android Market, and which will initially be designed to operate exclusively on Android-enabled devices powered by Snapdragon processors. These titles include a number of high-end PC games …

… says Raj Talluri, vice president of product management at Qualcomm. “With more than 60 percent of smartphone users regularly playing games on their mobile devices, the time is right to bring more console-quality and casual games to the Snapdragon platform. We are very excited to put our new Snapdragon GameCommand app and more great gaming titles in the hands of consumers in early 2012.”

Qualcomm Announces a Bunch of Krait Based Snapdragon S4 SoCs [Anandtech, Nov 16, 2011]

If you want an 8960 without integrated LTE, Qualcomm has an SoC for you: the MSM8x60A. The CPU specs are the same as the 8960, just without LTE support.

Below the 8960 is the MSM8930, a dual-core Krait (up to 1.2GHz) offering with only a single LPDDR2 memory channel (up to 1066MHz data rate). The 8930 will actually use a faster GPU than the 8960, the Adreno 305, although it’ll be more memory bandwidth limited. The 8930 will also debut later than the 8960 partially due to its new GPU.

The 8930 features LTE support, but if you want a version without it there’s the new MSM8x30. Similarly, if you want a version without an integrated baseband altogether there’s the APQ8030. The ISP in the xx30 series supports 1080p video decode and up to a 13.5MP camera (down from 20MP in the xx60 SoCs).

There’s an even even more affordable S4 in the lineup: the MSM8x27. Here you get two Krait cores running at up to 1GHz, a single channel LPDDR2 interface (800MHz max data rate). Video decode is limited to 720p in the 8×27.


[* the numbering change is: MSM8270 –> MSM8x60A]

The APQ8060, MSM8x30 and MSM8x27 parts won’t be out until the latter part of 2012.

Compare this to the Qualcomm Snapdragon S1-S2-S3 SoCs lineup in production as of 16-Nov-2011:

Note that the Krate based Snapdragon S4 will come to the mass market smartphone SoCs in 2012, while the previous Scorpion based Snapdragons were only available in the premium smartphone segment only!

Qualcomm announces Snapdragon S4 Liquid mobile development platform tablet on The Engadget Show, we go hands-on (video) [Engadget, Nov 16, 2011]

Hands-On: Qualcomm SnapDragon S4 [ via Engadget, Nov 16, 2011]

[Note the LTE speed shown as 40+ Mbps on download and 4.2 Mbps on upload.]

At its investor conference earlier today, Qualcomm unveiled a variety of new Snapdragon processors to join its recently-announced MSM8960 S4 chip. But we got an exclusive first look at the 8960 in New York City this evening, in the form of a mobile development platform (MDP) tablet demo during The Engadget Show. The tablet the company had on hand isn’t much to look at — it’s not the slimmest we’ve seen, and it feels a bit clunkier than models destined for consumers — but its specs, which include an on-die LTE modem (the first of its kind — we were seeing download speeds of around 45 Mbps), dual 1080p cameras (and another two for 3D), seven microphones, a spattering of sensors and a handful of connectors make this the ultimate platform for Android developers. Not convinced? Join us past the break for a hands-on walkthrough with Raj Talluri, Qualcomm’s VP of Product Management.

The Snapdragon S4 MDP tablet is one of the first we’ve seen from Qualcomm that’s sleek enough to function as a primary tablet, perhaps even for power-hungry consumers. It won’t be cheap, though pricing has yet to be announced, but for developers that need a comprehensive platform for testing their Android apps, there’s no question that this is an excellent option.

The tablet packs a 10.1-inch 1366 x 768 (16:9) 10-finger capacitive multitouch display, with a 13 megapixel rear-facing camera with flash and front-facing 2 megapixel camera (both capable of 1080p30 video capture), along with another pair of rear-facing side-by-side cams, specifically designed for shooting 3D. On the audio front, you’ll find seven microphones and surround sound stereo speakers, which we hear sound great for everything from video chat to movie viewing. It’s currently running Gingerbread, but expect Ice Cream Sandwich in early 2012, with support for Windows 8 to come after that.

As far as sensors go, there are dual 3D accelerometers, a three-axis gyro, compass, ambient light and proximity, a temperature and pressure sensor and a fingerprint reader. Dual independently-controlled linear vibrator motors provide haptic feedback. Memory includes 2GB of 400MHz LPDDR2, 32GB eMMC, and 1MB of SPI NOR flash. There’s also a removable 5200 mAh lithium ion battery, which should provide many hours of power when paired with the efficient S4.

When it comes to controls, this is far from a single-button affair — there’s a combo volume / zoom rocker, a power button, screen rotation lock, home button and recessed reset button. External connectors include a docking station port, micro USB with MHL, a 3.5mm audio jack with ANC contacts, a DC-in charger port and a microSD slot. There’s also a full-size SIM slot and touch panel programming connector under the battery door, along with a Sensor Fusion expansion connector. The docking station adds a pair of full-size USB connections, HDMI, Ethernet, JTAG, QEPM, UART and another DC-in.

Ready to start coding? Devs will need to wait until the first half of 2012 before getting their hands on Qualcomm’s latest S4 MDP tablet, but if today’s demo is any indication, it’ll be worth the wait.

QUALCOMM Incorporated’s CEO Discusses Q4 2011 Results – Earnings Call Transcript — Q & A [Nov 2, 2011]

… just want to get some more color on the 8960. As you move to 28-nanometer, it seems like a turnkey product for your road map in 2012. This product brand, how should we think about it as it impacts your ASP? Should we kind of have our normal seasonal price decline in March, but then, as 8960 ramps, your ASPs could kind of go up embedded in your guidance? Just trying to get some color on ASP. And then, if you can just give any color on 8960 in general, that’d be very helpful.

Steven M. Mollenkopf: A couple of things. One is it’s progressing pretty much the way that we had hoped. So it’s on track for the dates that we talked about last call. We’ll see that build volume through really the mid-calendar year of ’12 and — as we’ve said before. So quite happy with how that’s looking both from a designing perspective as well as from the engineering side. We will — that will build throughout the year. We’re also taking the 28-nanometer process and we’re actually going to create a tier of products, which I think we’ve talked a little bit about before. On a high-end, more of a tablet-specific part as well as a mass market LTE product. So if you look at 28-nanometer in total through next year, or through this year, fiscal year ’12, you’ll see it build on the 8960, which I would consider to be a premium part, and then transition to a tiered road map pretty consistent with what we’ve done with other technology transitions as well.

TSMC Accelerates 28nm Process Output [Nov 3, 2011]

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) will start volume production at the first facility in its Fab 15 building earlier than originally scheduled, suggesting the foundry giant is competing to ramp up general production based on 28nm process technology.

The facility is designed to have maximum monthly capacity of 50,000 wafers of tailor-made chips using 28nm process, making it the most advanced chip-making factory in the Central Taiwan Science Park.

… 28nm foundry to account for 10% of the company’s revenue next year, up from current 0.5%. Industry executives estimated the percentage will rise to 2% by the end of this year thanks to volume production starting at the new facility.

The second facility in the Fab 15 building is estimated to start volume production in the fourth quarter next year after being tooled up in the first quarter of 2012. Construction of the third and fourth facilities will start sometime next year and be completed in late 2013. The latter two factories are likely to be equipped with 20nm tools.

Fab 15 calls for a total of NT$400 billion (US$13.3 billion at US$1: NT$30) in investment spending.

TSMC 28nm Technology in Volume Production [TSMC press release, Oct 24, 2011]

… and production wafers have been shipped to customers. TSMC leads the foundry segment to achieve volume production at 28nm node.

TSMC’s 28nm process offering includes 28nm High Performance (28HP), 28nm High Performance Low Power (28HPL), 28nm Low Power (28LP), and 28nm High Performance Mobile Computing (28HPM). Among these technology offerings, 28HP, 28HPL and 28LP are all in volume production and 28HPM will be ready for production by the end of this year. The production-version design collateral of 28HPM has been distributed to most mobile computing customers for their product-design use.

The number of customer 28nm production tape outs has more than doubled as compared with that of 40nm. At 28nm, there are currently more than 80 customer product tape-outs. The TSMC 28nm process has surpassed the previous generation’s production ramps and product yield at the same point in time due to closer and earlier collaboration with customers.

“Qualcomm and TSMC have a long history of collaboration to bring to market the latest in mobile semiconductor technology on the most advanced silicon manufacturing processes, and we are excited to be introducing the first integrated smartphone processors at the 28nm node,” said Jim Clifford, senior vice president and general manager of operations at Qualcomm. “Most recently, Qualcomm’s work with TSMC yielded our Snapdragon™ S4 class of processors, including the Snapdragon S4 MSM8960™, a highly-integrated, dual-core SoC designed to reduce power in cutting-edge smartphones and tablets. The Snapdragon S4 class of processors are manufactured in TSMC’s highly sophisticated 28LP process, enabling Qualcomm to deliver the breakthrough combination of high performance and ultra low power to mobile devices.”

Qualcomm’s New Snapdragon S4: MSM8960 & Krait Architecture Explored [AnandTech, Oct 7, 2011]

Performance Expectations

Performance of ARM cores has always been characterized by DMIPS (Dhrystone Millions of Instructions per Second). An extremely old integer benchmark, Dhrystone was popular in the PC market when I was growing up but was abandoned long ago in favor of more representative benchmarks. You can get a general idea of performance improvements across similar architectures assuming there are no funny compiler tricks at play. The comparison of single-core DMIPS/MHz is below:

ARM DMIPS/MHz
ARM11 ARM Cortex A8 ARM Cortex A9 Qualcomm Scorpion Qualcomm Krait
DMIPS/MHz 1.25 2.0 2.5 2.1 3.3

At 3.3, Krait should be around 30% faster than a Cortex A9 running at the same frequency. At launch Krait will run 25% faster than most A9s on the market today, a gap that will only grow as Qualcomm introduces subsequent versions of the core. It’s not unreasonable to expect a 30 – 50% gain in performance over existing smartphone designs. ARM hasn’t published DMIPS/MHz numbers for the Cortex A15, although rumors place its performance around 3.5 DMIPS/MHz.

The Adreno 225 GPU

Qualcomm has historically been pretty silent about its GPU architectures. You’ll notice that specific details of Adreno GPU execution resources have been absent from most of our SoC comparisons. Starting with MSM8960 however, this is starting to change.

The MSM8960 uses a current generation Adreno GPU with a couple of changes. Qualcomm calls this GPU the Adreno 225, a follow-on to Adreno 220. Subsequent Krait designs will use Adreno 3xx GPUs based on a brand new architecture.

Architecturally the Adreno 225 and 220 are identical. Adreno 2xx is a DX9-class unified shader design. There’s a ton of compute on-board with eight 4-wide vector units and eight scalar units. Each 4-wide vector unit is capable of a maximum of 8 MADs per clock, while each scalar unit is similarly capable of 2 MADs per clock. That works out to 160 floating point operations per clock, or 32 GFLOPS at 200MHz.

With Adreno 225 Qualcomm improves performance along two vectors, the first being clock speed. While Adreno 220 (used in the MSM8660) ran at 266MHz, Adreno 225 runs at 400MHz thanks to 28nm. Secondly, Qualcomm tells us Adreno 225 is accompanied by “significant driver improvements”. Keeping in mind the sheer amount of compute potential of the Adreno 22x family, it only makes sense that driver improvements could unlock a lot of performance. Qualcomm expects the 225 to be 50% faster than the outgoing 220

While Adreno 225 is only Direct3D feature level 9_3 compliant, Qualcomm insisted that when the time is right it will have a D3D11 capable GPU using its own IP – putting to rest rumors of Qualcomm looking to license a third party GPU in order to be competitive in Windows 8 designs. Although Qualcomm committed to delivering D3D11 support, it didn’t commit to a timeframe.

Final Words

Qualcomm has had MSM8960 silicon back in house for the past 3 months and is on-track for a release sometime in the first half of next year. Assuming Qualcomm can deliver on its claims, performance alone would be enough to sell this chip. Improved power characteristics and integrated LTE baseband really complete the package though.

The implications for a 1H 2012 MSM8960 release are tremendous. Android users will have to choose between a newer software platform (OMAP 4 running Ice Cream Sandwich) or much faster hardware (MSM8960). Windows Phone users may finally get a much needed performance boost if Microsoft chooses to standardize on Krait for its Windows Phone hardware refresh next year. End users will benefit as next year’s smartphones and tablets will see, once again, a generational performance improvement over what’s shipping today. LTE should also start to see much more widespread adoption (at the high end) as a result of Qualcomm’s integrated LTE baseband.

Snapdragon S4 Processors: System on Chip Solutions for a New Mobile Age [Qualcomm 9 page long whitepaper, Oct 7, 2011]

End of Updates

With the introduction of Qualcomm Snapdragon SoCs with a new way of easy identification [Aug 4, 2011] came the realization on Qualcomm’s side that they should start to emphasize the SoC (system on a chip) aspect of their market leading chip products:

… our current Snapdragon family of processors has grown to encompass over 15 different chips with feature sets that target mass market smartphones all the way through high end smartphones and tablets. And, although our Snapdragon chips are called processors, they are really system on chip solutions. Inside each Snapdragon chip are multiple hardware subsystems including CPUs, GPUs, modems, multimedia processors, GPS, DSPs, sensors, as well as advanced management software.

And all of these components are integrated into a single small chip that is designed with mobile in mind. The result is that Snapdragon processors deliver outstanding performance and longer battery life. …

From: A Simple Way to Identify Which Snapdragon System is Right for You [Tim McDonough Vice President, Marketing, Qualcomm QCT on Qualcomm’s blog: OnQ, Aug 3, 2011]

Below is a simple technical overview of the four Snapdragon classes of chips with S1 to S3 being the current ones and S4 coming commercially in December this year:

S4 class SoCs S3 class SoCs S2 class SoCs S1 class SoCs
Up to 2.5 GHz Quad-core Krait CPUs Up to 1.5 GHz Dual-core Scorpion CPUs Up to 1.4 GHz Scorpion CPU Up to 1 GHz Scorpion CPU
Adreno™ 225, 305, 320 GPUs
Adreno™ 220 GPU Adreno™ 205 GPU Up to Adreno™ 200 GPU
1080p HD video 1080p HD video 720p+ HD video Up to 720p HD video
3G/LTE modem 3G modem – (HSPA+/1xAdv/1xEV
DO/GSM/GPRS/EDGE)
3G modem – (HSPA/DO/1x) 3G Modem – (HSPA/DO/1x)
Information is not yet available Dual camera up to 16M pixels
Stereoscopic 3D Kit
Dual Cameras up to 12M pixels Single camera up to 12M pixels
Information is not yet available gpsOne Gen8 gpsOne Gen8 gpsOne Gen 7
Up to multiple USB ports USB 2.0 High Speed OTG (480Mbps) High Speed USB 2.0 USB 2.0

Below one can find the latest information about the new class, first from the foundry partner TSMC and then from the SoC vendor Qualcomm itself.

TSMC backs-off grand capex plan due to softening demand: 28nm ramp delayed [July 28, 2011]

TSMC said in a conference call that its 28nm ramp had experienced delays due to customers deferring migration of chips to the next node due to the global economic conditions, rather than due to any fabrication issues.

Chang also noted that 89 products had already been taped-out at the 28nm node all fully functioning and containing ‘satisfactory yields.’ The actual production ramp will take longer than expected due to the weakening macro-economic environment, as customers delay volume ramp plans until conditions can be seen to have improved.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing CEO Discusses Q2 2011 Results – Earnings Call Transcript [July 28, 2011]

Now, I’d like to report on our technology progress specifically first on 28-nanometer. We reported earlier that we had tape outs for 89 individual products and the tape out of each of those is on schedule. The first silicon of every tape out was fully functional would consistently satisfactory. In fact density reduction is on plan. The ramp of 28-nanometer however is taking longer than expected due to the softening economy and the demand outlook of 2011.

Second item that I want to report on is that our close co-orporation ARM CPU core is allowing us to optimize our technology of ARM design. Recently in 28HP, which stands for 28 high-performance, we have delivered first industry silicon with higher speeds than any other computer using on. And in 28 HPM which tends to our 28 nanometer high-performance mobile we have enabled first tape out of even better performance.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing CEO Discusses Q2 2011 Results – Earnings Call Transcript
Question-and-Answer Session [July 28, 2011]

… my fourth quarter is regarding 28-nanometer, you mentioned that 28-nanometer is taking a bit longer. Can you kind of describe if that is relate to just maturity of the process? Was it related to just customer not ramping the design that they have and you were previously, maybe previously expect them to ramp. And finally, how much of yourself do you expect to come with 28-nanometer for the second half or for the fourth quarter of this year?

The delay of 28-nanometer is not due to their quality issue, actually we have regular tape out and it is unplanned. The July ramping is mainly because of softening economy for our customers, so customers delayed a tape out to us. So therefore, the 28-nanometer revenue contribution by the end of fourth quarter this year will be roughly above 1% of our total wafer revenue.

… With the 28-nanometer, to what extent the ramp beyond Q4 is going to be driven by attracting new customers, or is that going to be just the volume ramp of these 70 to 80 tape outs that you have?

No, we’re not counting on attracting new customers. Actually we have almost all of the major customers of the foundry business anyway, and all them are using, are planning to use or I should say, almost all of them are planning to use our 28-nanometer. And our tape outs would be 89 tape outs that I have mentioned a couple of times, I think equal to 10 times the combined tape outs of all of our competitors. So now, we’re not planning on, we’re not coming on attracting new customers on the 28-nanometer. And I believe that – the ramp up of 28-nanometer is mainly a function of demand and it will I think it ws both, in the December, this coming December and January we sharply there will be a inflection point in the ramp up curve.

Can you give us some rough numbers on how much of your CapEx spend in the first half for 28-nanomter and how much you think you 28-nanometer CapEx spend will be in the second half of the year.

This year we just revised the CapEx in 7.4, I can roughly tell you more than 2.5 billion will be on 28-nanometer, which is mainly on the first half of this year.

… then further as I think about the fourth quarter significant utilization recovery, I guess that implies that it is in the middle node …

we will have some 28-nanometer on fourth quarter as well.

QUALCOMM Incorporated’s CEO Discusses Q3 2011 Results – Earnings Call Transcript [July 20, 2011]

[Dr. Paul Jacobs, Chairman and CEO] During this quarter, we sampled our Snapdragon MSM 8960 chipset based on 28-nanometer process technology. The MSM 8960 is a dual-core solution which uses our next-generation micro-architecture called Krait with integrated multimode modem technology, including EV-DO, Dual-Carrier HSPA+ and both the TDD and FDD variances LTE.

In June, we hosted our second annual Uplinq conference here in San Diego. The event was a success as it brought together industry leaders from across the ecosystem, including application developers, operators and device manufacturers. Our support of multiple operating systems is highlighted by keynote presentations delivered by HP, HTC and Nokia. The convergence of the mobile and computing ecosystem is accelerating as smartphones and tablets are becoming full-blown computing devices. Traditional computing device manufacturers are working on mobile devices, and developers are increasing their emphasis on mobile. According to Strategy Analytics, by 2012, the installed base of smartphones is estimated to exceed the installed base of PCs. Our collaboration with Microsoft to enable Windows 8 to run on our Snapdragon family of chipsets, including MSM 8960, further underscores a shift in computing.

[Steve Mollenkopf, Executive VP and Group President* ] As Paul mentioned, we sampled the Snapdragon MSM 8960 ahead of schedule this quarter, which is the industry’s first multimode 3G LTE dual core chipset for handsets. This is the first of multiple 28-nanometer chipsets on our roadmap and it is designed to integrate seamlessly with our new connectivity solution, the WCN3660, which supports dual band WiFi, Bluetooth and FM and is optimized for smartphone and tablet devices. As we announced at Computex, the MSM 8960 will be the first processor in the Snapdragon family to power devices using Windows 8.

The MSM 8960 and a broad platform of multimode 3G LTE chipsets on our roadmap will greatly expand the reach of LTE and take our high-performance high-efficiency designs to the next wave of smartphones, tablets and upcoming generations of Windows computing devices.

Demonstrating our potential expanded opportunities that the Atheros acquisition provides, since the deal closed in May, we have launched the industry’s first FTC-certified WiFi system and package for microcontroller-based designs to enable machine-to-machine communications and introduced the industry’s lowest EPON solutions for broadband over fiber networks and the power grid.

We are modestly increasing our R&D investments in the fiscal fourth quarter to support new process technologies, the commercialization of our expanding multi-core and LTE product offerings and to support multiple new customer opportunities. Our strategic focus on integrated system solutions, leveraging our modem application processor connectivity graphics and software leadership is working well, and we expect to see strong volume growth in the coming quarters. …

* Since Sept’10 [the beginning of current fiscal year] Mollenkopf’s [only 41 years old, note that even Jacobs is only 48 years old] executive oversight responsibilities include not only Qualcomm CDMA Technologies (QCT), but also Qualcomm Internet Services (QIS) and Qualcomm MEMS Technologies, Inc [now also over Qualcomm Atheros]. (QMT) which is actually a stepping stone to become a COO as evidenced with case of Len Lauer [53] promoted  to COO role alongside with Mollenkopf’s promotion to president of QCT in April’08. The COO role became vacant when Lauer decided to move to Memjet in Dec’09 because of huge and quite rare opportunities to develop a new ICT power breaker. See more on that in The Memjet disruption to the printing industry [July 30, 2011].

Important note: QCT’s full name of “Qualcomm CDMA Technologies” may easily be interpreted as narrowly related to CDMA mobile communications technology only. In fact QCT has an overall mobile communications/computing role described as:

QCT offers comprehensive chipset solutions for all types of smart connected devices.

… QCT offers solutions for CDMA, UMTS, GSM and LTE technologies, providing support for both 3G and 4G networks and devices. Complementing our offerings, Qualcomm Atheros, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Qualcomm, offers a broad portfolio of additional wired and wireless technologies for the mobile, networking, computing and consumer electronics product segments.

Our combined portfolio now features an expanded array of high-performance, end-to-end solutions ranging from Wi-Fi®, GPS, Bluetooth®, FM and Ethernet — to HomePlug™ Powerline and passive optical network (PON) technologies.

All of our solutions and products are elegantly engineered for optimal performance and power consumption. And our system-on-chip solutions like Snapdragon™ bring together CPU, GPU, connectivity, multimedia and GPS technologies in a way that is redefining mobile possibilities for people everywhere.

CEO’s background:
At Qualcomm, Rise of Founder’s Son Defies Hazards of Succession [June 12, 2011]

When Paul E. Jacobs took over from his father as chief executive of the chip maker Qualcommin 2005, mobile phones were just beginning their transition from tools for talking to hand-held computers delivering data and entertainment.

“We talk about the future of computing being mobile, but I don’t feel that way,” said Mr. Jacobs, 48. “I feel the present of computing is mobile.”

Mr. Jacobs has spent the last six years expanding Qualcomm’s business beyond his father’s tight focus on the digital wireless technology known as C.D.M.A. (code division multiple access)

While Irwin Jacobs, 77, the M.I.T. professor and electronics wizard who founded the company in 1985 and retired in 2005, was known for his dogged defense of the company’s intellectual property, his son Paul is more prone to talk breathlessly about a connected world where mobile devices diagnose our illnesses, turn on our lights, control our thermostats and allow doctors to remotely monitor our health in real time.

Last year Qualcomm dominated a diverse field of smartphone chip makers with 41 percent of the total market share in terms of revenue and nearly 61 percent of the market share for application processors used in smartphones powered by Google’s Android operating system, according to the market research firm Strategy Analytics.

Qualcomm has a two- or three-year advantage in terms of integration,” said Stuart Robinson, an analyst at Strategy Analytics.

The third of four sons, Mr. Jacobs took to computers early, learning to program in middle school on a Teletype terminal. Beginning in seventh grade he worked part time at Linkabit, another technology company founded by his father, which made communications equipment for the military. During college he worked summers at Qualcomm.

“Another thing that my father did for me was that every summer I worked in another area of engineering, so that by the time I went to college, I had done almost every kind of engineering there was,” said Mr. Jacobs, who went on to earn a Ph.D. in electrical engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, where he focused on robotics.

Mr. Jacobs enjoys talking about a world where chips spread out beyond the confines of smartphones. In this so-called Internet of things, everyday objects like TVs, dishwashers, running shoes, blood glucose monitors, picture frames, heart defibrillatorsand even Band-Aids have tiny chips or sensors that transmit information and communicate with mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.

“The sensors are going to be on your body, they’re going to be in the environment around you,” Mr. Jacobs said. “You’ll go and step on the scale and the scale will automatically talk to your phone and keep track of your health.”

Qualcomm’s purchase of the chip maker Atheros Communications for $3.1 billion, the company’s largest acquisition, expands Qualcomm beyond phones into tablets and home electronic devices. It moves the company closer to “fulfilling this vision that wireless is going to be embedded in the world around us,” Mr. Jacobs said.

QUALCOMM Incorporated’s CEO Discusses Q3 2011 Results – Earnings Call Transcript
Question-and-Answer Session [July 20, 2011]

… then a question for Steve [Mollenkopf]. You said that yourself had to use 28-nanometer device. Realistically, how much of your overall mix do you think 28-nanometer should be in, let’s say, 2 quarters from now?

28-nanometer, our first 28-nanometer device will really go commercial at the end of this calendar year so it really won’t show up until the next calendar year. We, however, are very optimistic about that device. We’ve had great success with it so far in terms of how it’s looking in the lab. I mentioned that we sampled that early, which is pretty rare for us and actually probably an indicator of how much priority is on that now as a company. I mentioned that we’ve added some additional OpEx in order to really — I think we’re pretty optimistic about that chip. We want to measure that we de-risk it as best as we can, but we expect that to be something really more in the middle of next fiscal year.

… And then Steve, just on the market share on the application processor aside of the business. Can you talk a little bit about how you see Snapdragon market share shaping up over the next few quarters particularly as you get the 8960 into the market?

As I mentioned in my comments, we saw from quarter-to-quarter, we saw 32% rise actually in our integrated AP chipsets. That’s really across tiers so we’re quite happy with how that’s looking. Looking forward, as you mentioned, the 28-nanometer devices do include integrated LTE as well as all the other modes and Wireless LAN. And I think what’s going to happen here in next year is at the top end of the portfolio, it’s going to be very, very important to have these high-end modems and connectivity integrated in very tightly with the apps process. We’re seeing significant amount of customer traction on this device, and that’s one of the reasons why we really kind of put the gas on it here in the fourth fiscal quarter.

Steve, … how should we be looking at that for next quarter? Does it go back up again? You’ve been talking previously that when you get in the 28-nanometer at the end of the year going to next year, sort of now there were 8960 that we see that bounce back up again. So I want to make sure that we’re still — or just understand that the trajectory of that is going forward. I’m wondering that 120 to 125 MSMs next quarter. If those opportunities you’re talking about come through, would we see that impact next quarter?…

… As we commented, we’re not, at this point, seeing a significant increase in the MSM volume. And as Steve noted, he’s stepping up his R&D because of some opportunities that we see here in the near term. … This is Steve. On the R&D investment, it’s really a combination of things. The majority of it is things that I would consider to be more onetime events in the sense that they are increases in terms of integration platforms that we use internally to develop the devices or tape-outs or things that you would do that accelerate the program because you’re confident in it or you have more confidence in it. We also, as we announced in the quarter, we announced a small acquisition, which closed in the September quarter that’s also now in the results or in the OpEx forecast as well. So very much on track in terms of how we guided you in terms of OpEx, op margin trajectory and what we expect. And then looking into next year, we tend to invest into units a little bit ahead of — more than one quarter ahead, I think, in terms of the volume ramp. So it’s really the products that we’re going to ramp in fiscal year ’12. [FY12 starts on Sept 26, 2011]

… one more question on Krait. So you’re sampled and now shipping sometime next year beginning next year. You said it’s going to support one of the — I guess the integrated connectivity solutions from Atheros. My understanding was the Krait chips in general were going to have connectivity integrated directly on the dye. Can you verify do the MSM, the chipsets coming there, does it have connectivity capability that’s integrated on the dye? Doesn’t sound like it. And if it doesn’t, can you give us some feel for what your connectivity integration roadmap actually looks like going through, I guess, going into 2012 as you roll those products out?

This is Steve. I’ll take the first part of the Krait question. Maybe ask Craig if he can handle the second part, probably better answers than I can give. But the 8960 device has, in addition to the application process of the GPU, all the modems, multi-mode modem functionality in GPS. It does have integrated wireless LAN. It is part of a digital dye, but the radio is actually outside of the device. We have, I think, a little bit different approach to integration than some of our competitors. And maybe, Craig, if you could provide a perspective on that would be great.

Sure, this is Craig [Barratt]. Obviously, from my Atheros background, we’ve been on both sides of this debate. But one of the key things is the attach rate of Wi-Fi is really going up to very high levels pretty much in all smartphone and tablet platforms and there’s substantial benefits to integrating a significant part of the connectivity functions not just WiFi but also Bluetooth, FM. And as you know, GPS was being integrated actually for a long time. We can deliver much higher performance. There’s benefits in terms of reducing overall system-level power. The solution ends up contributing a much smaller increase in PCB size. So the solution area is smaller and that’s critical for more compact devices. And of course, I think there are benefits around cost as well. And so this is a trend that will fan out, I think, across many of the future MSM chips and other similar platforms in the future

… then Steve, for you, on Snapdragon, there seems to be a lot of design activity ongoing as there has been for some time. Looking forward, do you think Snapdragon is best positioned for the smartphone or the tablet market? And maybe just give us your thoughts on how you see the tablet market x Apple evolving?

… this is Steve. Perspectives on chipsets for tablets and phones. In some cases, the same device will be used for high-end phones that will be used for tablets. You’ve seen that in the market. And then in other cases, you may have a more specialized device. We have recently added both of those tiers into our roadmap. The difference between them may be a small amount of performance delta but also different interfaces that are required in a tablet, perhaps, than a phone depending on the class of tablet. In terms of the overall market, our perspective is quite bullish over the long term. If you look at mobile computing, we think that will really grow up and take a fairly significant share of the traditional laptop space really driven by the software that’s being driven on phones. That software is getting better every day and I think, as that happens, you’ll see I think a little bit more diversity in terms of supply base for suppliers into that market as well as the market itself growing. Both of those things being good things for Qualcomm and the industry.

Nvidia Denies Plans to Release Kepler GPU in 2011 [Aug 4, 2011]

Nvidia: Kepler-Based Products to Ship in 2012

Nvidia Corp. on Thursday clarified its plans regarding the next-generation Kepler graphics processing units (GPUs) and their release timeframes. Apparently, the company is on schedule to receive the early silicon of Kepler from its manufacturing partner later in 2011, but the commercial launch of the product is scheduled to occur only in 2012.

“Although we will have early silicon this year, Kepler-based products are actually scheduled to go into production in 2012. We wanted to clarify this so people wouldn’t expect product to be available this year,” said Ken Brown, a spokesman for Nvidia, in an email statement.

TSMC reiterates plans to commercially produce 28nm chips later in 2011 [July 13, 2011]

Pure-play foundry Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has said that its plans to start commercial production of chips using 28nm process this year remains unchanged. TSMC expects 28nm chips to start contributing to company revenues in the third quarter of 2011, and sales from the advanced technology will account for 2-3% of its total wafer sales in the last quarter of the year.

TSMC also reiterated its target of 20% growth in 2011 consolidated revenues (denominated in US dollars).

The remarks were made following speculation that launch of Nvidia’s Kepler GPU generation may be pushed back to 2012 due to manufacturing issues at TSMC. However, according to Nvidia, its schedule has not changed. It expect to begin production in 2011 with products based on Kepler being available in 2012. AMD’s upcoming Southern Islands GPU reportedly will have a similar schedule, industry sources have observed, with AMD also contracting TSMC to build the 28nm GPU generation.

Nobunaga Chai, semiconductor analyst at Digitimes Research, has commented that any production transfer will need to go through a certain learning curve before the process attains satisfactory yields, and it is understandable that current yield rates for TSMC’s 28nm are not mature. Especially for performance-driven devices like GPUs, improving the yield rate would require more time than that for products with simpler architectures like FPGAs.

However, TSMC should find it easier to improve its yields on 28nm compared to 40nm as the latter requires equipment upgrades, Chai said. The foundry previously spent about a year raising its 40nm process yields to a satisfactory level.

Planned launch of Nvidia 28nm and 22/20nm GPUs moved back to 2012 and 2014 [July 8, 2011]

Despite Nvidia CEO Huang Jen-hsun previously saying that the company is set to announce its new 28nm GPU architecture at the end of 2011 and 22/20nm in 2013, sources from graphics card makers have pointed out that Nvidia has already adjusted its roadmap and delayed 28nm Kepler and 22/20nm Maxwell to 2012 and 2014.

The sources believe that the delay is due to unsatisfactory yield rates of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company’s (TSMC) 28nm process. TSMC originally expected its 28nm capacity at Fab15 to be available in the fourth quarter of 2011 and was set to start pilot production for its 20nm process technology in the third quarter of 2012.

However, TSMC’s other major client Qualcomm, currently, still has not yet adjusted its 28nm process schedule and is set to launch three new products, 8960, 8270 and 8260A using dual-core Krait architecture in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Meanwhile, AMD will follow its original schedule and enter the 28nm era in the first half of 2012. The company’s next-generation graphics chips Southern Island as well as Krishna and Wichita processors, which will replace the existing Ontraio and Zacate processors, and will all adopt a 28nm process from TSMC.

Qualcomm’s Chipset Roadmap: 1.7GHz Dual-Core + Adreno 225 for 2011, Quad Core for 2013 [July 5, 2011]

Qualcomm Roadmap -- mid 2011

Qualcomm looks just about set to make even more leaps in the chipset game to get them caught up with their competitors. A new roadmap spotted shows where Qualcomm’s headed with their plans in the next few years. For starters, we’ll be getting 1.5GHz to 1.7GHz dual-core chipsets near the end of this year which are expected to make its way into phones in Q4 2011 or Q1 2012. It’ll have an Adreno 225 which is said to rival the GPU powering the Playstation Vita.

Next up is a bit more of the same. The 8230 and 8930 are both set to be dual-core offerings with their cores clocked anywhere between 1GHz and 1.2GHz, depending on what the manufacturer wants. The biggest difference will be in the graphics department where phones will be powered by Adreno 3 (305, to be specific) which will take us far beyond the possibilities of the Playstation Vita and more into the realm of the Xbox 360 or the Playstation 3.

Finally, 2013 will bring us their quad-core beasts with chipsets ranging from 2.0GHz to 2.5GHz in clock speed and an Adreno 320 GPU. Needless to say, I’m ready to throw the power of a mid-range gaming computer into my front pocket.

These all sound very good, but when you think about how far along their competitors are, you start to wonder if their efforts will matter in the coming years. I’m mainly talking about NVIDIA, who has their quad-core Kal-El Tegra 3 chipset coming later this year. To be fair, they are in line with Samsung and are actually ahead of Texas Instruments in the chipset games when it comes to technological advances. Still, quite a long wait between now and 2013.

Qualcomm roadmap reveals quad-core, 2.5GHz ARM CPU [July 6, 2011]

Now, a July 5 posting by MobileTechWorld.com author Makran Daouprovides additional information about the MSM8960, tips a lower-end version called the MSM8930, and reveals the MSM8974 — apparently an even-more-powerful version of the APQ8064. The details are said to have come from a leaked Qualcomm document, a link to which the company’s legal department subsequently asked Daou to remove.

The MSM8960 and APQ8064 were first announced in February, at which time Qualcomm touted the fact that it had employed its ARM architectural license to develop original processor cores. The company’s homegrown architecture, codenamed “Krait,” was claimed to deliver 150 percent higher overall performance and 65 percent lower power consumption than currently available ARM-based cores.

Quoted in a February article by PC‘s Sascha Segan, Qualcomm’s Pineda said Krait is compatible with, but not the same as, the ARM Cortex-A9 cores used in Nvidia’s Tegra 2 and TI’s OMAP 4. “We don’t see this as competing with Cortex-A9. We see it as competing with Cortex-A15 [link],” he reportedly added.

The MSM8960

Aimed at both smartphones and tablets, the dual-core MSM8960 includes an integrated multi-mode 3G/LTE modem, Qualcomm said in February. Featuring “asynchronous CPU cores which can be independently controlled for maximum efficiency,” the device supports dual-channel LP DDR memory and features the Adreno 225 GPU (graphics processing unit), offering eight times the performance of the one found in the original 2007 Snapdragon, the company added.


Qualcomm’s MSM8960
Source: MobileTechWorld

According to MobileTechWorld‘s Daou, the MSM8960’s two Krait cores will be clocked between 1.5 and 1.7GHz, and the device will offer dual 500MHz LPDDR2 memory channels. The MSM8960 will support the capture of stereoscopic 20 megapixel images or 1080p video at 30 frames per second (fps), while its GPU will provide DirectX 9.3 compatibility and 125M triangles/sec. performance, he adds.

The MSM8960 will start shipping in production quantities during the fourth quarter of this year, the MobileTechWorldstory adds.

The MSM8930

Daou’s story also reveals another Snapdragon known as the MSM8930, which is essentially a cost-reduced version of the MSM8960. It has the same dual Krait cores, but they’re clocked only up to 1.2GHz, and there’s just a single 533MHz memory channel, MobileTechWorldsays.


Qualcomm’s MSM8930
Source: MobileTechWorld

For the MSM8930, the Qualcomm document apparently cited “Adreno 305” graphics, which again provide DirectX 9.3 compatibility, this time with 80M triangles/sec. performance. Stereoscopic stills are supported up to 12 megapixels, and 30fps 1080p video capture is again possible, the story adds.

According to the MobileTechWorldstory, the MSM8930 will start shipping in the third quarter of 2012.

The MSM8974

In February, Qualcomm heralded the APQ8064, saying that it would include four asynchronous CPU cores, plus a quad-core Adreno 320 GPU that performs 15 times faster than the original Adreno, “enabling console-quality gaming.” Also offered will be support for both PC and LP DDR memory, serial and PCI Express interfaces, and operation with cameras up to 20 megapixels, Qualcomm said.

Daou now brings word of the MSM8974, “which I guess replaces the MSM8964/APQ8064.” (Qualcomm’s “MSM” devices include on-chip cellular radios, whereas their “AP” equivalents feature only application processors.)


Qualcomm’s MSM8974
Source: MobileTechWorld

According to the MobileTechWorldstory, the powerful MSM8974 will include quad Krait cores clocked at up to 2.5GHz, plus 2MB of second-level cache and support for two 667/800MHz LPDDR3 memory channels. It will support 30 megapixel stills — 3D is likely, but wasn’t mentioned — and 60fps 1080p video capture, while the Adreno 320 is said to provide 225M triangles/sec. performance.

The MSM8974 will start shipping in the first quarter of 2013, writes Daou.

Recent Product Briefs for current 45nm Scorpion-based products: [or heterogeneous multi processing, see later]
Snapdragon single-core MSM8x55 and APQ8055 with upto 1.4GHz [latest version at the moment: Feb 23, 2011]: “This second generation Snapdragon CPU processor substantially improves overall user experience, increases system performance and further extends battery life. The 8×55 CPU chipset is designed specifically for mid and high-tier smartphones as well as larger display devices such as tablets. It also includes the new AP-only option APQ8055. Supported operating systems include Android™, Blackberry®, webOS, and Windows® Phone. … Modem: MSM8255 – UMTS / Single Mode, MSM8655 – CDMA / Multimode … GPU Processor: Adreno 205 with dedicated 2D engine …
Snapdragon dual-core MSM8x60 and APQ8060 with upto 1.5GHz [latest version at the moment: June 6, 2011]: “This third generation Snapdragon mobile processor includes the industry’s first asynchronous SMP [or heterogeneous multi processing, see later] dual-core CPU design, delivering superior performance and power optimization for high-tier mobile devices, particularly for mobile entertainment and gaming applications. … Unlike synchronous dual-core SMP designs where both cores must run at the same frequency and voltage when operational, the dual-core Scorpion asynchronous power design provides independent clocking and voltage per core, allowing each to work independently. This highly efficient design provides substantial power savings over traditional SMP technology by intelligently adjusting performance to suit the needs of the application. … Supported operating systems include Android™, Chrome, Blackberry ®, and Windows® Phone. … Modem: MSM8260 – UMTS / Single Mode, MSM8660 – CDMA / Multimode … GPU Processor: Adreno 220 with dedicated 2D engine …

Qualcomm Announces Next-generation Snapdragon Mobile Chipset Family [Feb 14, 2011]

Mobile Technology Leader Debuting New Quad-, Dual- and Single-core Snapdragon Chipsets with a new CPU Architecture

Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM) today announced its next mobile processor architecture for the Snapdragon family. The new processor micro-architecture, code-named Krait, in the next-generation Snapdragon will redefine performance for the industry, offering speeds of up to 2.5GHz per core and delivering 150 percent higher overall performance, as well as 65 percent lower power than currently available ARM-based CPU cores. These chipsets will be available in single-, dual- and quad-core versions and include a new Adreno® GPU series with up to four 3D cores, and integrated multi-mode LTE modem.

The latest family of Snapdragon chipsets will include the single-core MSM8930™, the dual-core MSM8960™ and the quad-core APQ8064™. All chipsets in the family will integrate a quad-combo of connectivity solutions — WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth and FM — and include support for near field communication (NFC), as well as stereoscopic 3D (S3D) video and photo capture and playback. Support for every major operating system, across all tiers of products, comes standardon all Snapdragon chipsets.

The software compatible chipset family will share the same 28nm technology and new, purpose-built CPUs and GPUs for the best mobile performance at the lowest power consumption. The latest Adreno GPUs will also be included in the family, allowing developers to continue to utilize high-performance Adreno graphics capabilities to drive spectacular gaming and user experiences across all device tiers. The Adreno GPU has the largest mobile graphics ecosystems with hundreds of games for Android, Windows Phone 7 Xbox gaming, and PlayStation Certified gaming.

At the high end, the Adreno 320 quad-core GPU will deliver up to 15 times the performance of the original Adreno to drive the latest games and S3D video on larger-screen devices. Adreno 320 delivers similar graphics performance to today’s latest game consoles, but for mobile devices. In addition, the chipset family will support 3D and S3D games, capture and playback of S3D photos and videos, and output in full HD to a 1080P flat panel display over HDMI.

“Just as the original Snapdragon revolutionized smartphones with the first 1GHz processor, these new generations of Snapdragon will revolutionize the next wave of mobile entertainment and computing,” said Steve Mollenkopf, executive vice president and group president for Qualcomm. “We believe we have an incredible lineup of chips and software, representing a single platform that OEMs can utilize to create new devices ranging from mass market smartphones with integrated LTE, to tablets, to next generation computing and entertainment devices.”

The single-core MSM8930 is the world’s first single-chip solution with an integrated LTE modem designed to take LTE to mass market smartphones. It will include the new Adreno 305 GPU which delivers more than six times the performance of the original Adreno.

The dual-core MSM8960 is the world’s first dual-core solution with an integrated multi-mode 3G/LTE modem and was designed to meet the requirements of multi-tasking smartphones and tablets. It will include dual asynchronous CPU cores which can be independently controlled for maximum efficiency. The MSM8960 will also support dual-channel LP DDR memory and will feature the Adreno 225 GPU which delivers eight times the performance of the original Adreno.

The quad-core APQ8064 will be designed to meet the performance requirements of the next generation of computing and entertainment deviceswhile minimizing power consumption. As with the Snapdragon dual-core, the APQ8064 will include four asynchronous CPU cores which can be independently controlled for maximum efficiency. The Adreno 320 quad-core GPU debuts in the APQ8064 processor where it enables console-quality gaming and renders rich user interfaces.

The APQ8064 will also include a variety of features that make it a compelling processing solution for use in mobile entertainment and computing devices, including support for both PC and LP DDR memory, serial and PCIe interfaces, and multiple USB ports. The APQ8064 will also seamlessly integrate with Qualcomm 3G and LTE MDM™ modems and modules, giving OEMs a flexible and cost-efficient platform that can meet all of their design configuration needs and help reduce time to market.

Samples of the MSM8960 are anticipated to be available in Q2 2011 and samples of the MSM8930 and APQ8064 are anticipated to be available in early 2012.

For more information about the Snapdragon processor’s next-generation CPU architecture, the first quad-core CPU and GPU features, and to see many of the top new devices powered by Snapdragon processors, please visit us during the GSMA Mobile World Congress 2010 (Booth 8B53, Hall 8), Feb. 14-17 in Barcelona or visit www.qualcomm.com/snapdragon.

Qualcomm Collaborates with Microsoft on Next Version of Windows [July 1, 2011]

Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM) announced today that its upcoming award-winning Snapdragon™ family of smart mobile processors, including the MSM8960™ with integrated 3G/LTE modem, is designed to power devices running the next version of Windows. The companies’ collaboration continues to address the converging and fast-changing mobile computing landscape, and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon family of dual-core and quad-core processors will enable optimal computing performance, extended battery life and connectivity, and top-notch graphics and multimedia in devices.

Qualcomm and Microsoft have a long and productive history of collaborationfocused on driving innovation forward, and we are pleased to be among the leaders of the next evolution of mobile computing,” said Luis Pineda, senior vice president of product management, computing and consumer products at Qualcomm. “Our upcoming family of Snapdragon processors is intelligently integrated, optimized for mobile and built smarter, making it the ideal processor to address consumers’ growing demands for new, innovative experiences and usage scenarios that we believe will be delivered by the next version of Windows.”

The first processor in the Snapdragon family to power devices using the next version of Windows will be the MSM8960, which is sampling this month, followed by the quad-core Snapdragon APQ8064™, which is anticipated to sample in early 2012. Qualcomm has built its Snapdragon family of mobile processors from the ground up to deliver enhanced power efficiency for devices running the next version of Windows. The MSM8960 from the Snapdragon family of mobile processors provides the first dual-core solution with an integrated multi-mode 3G/LTE modem and is designed to meet the multi-tasking requirements of the next version of Windows. The Snapdragon family of mobile processors will include dual and quad asynchronous CPU cores that can be independently controlled to deliver maximum performance at maximum efficiency.

“Windows 8 will enable customers to have the flexibility, connectivity and power that they expect from Windows today with new, touch-only devices like tablets. This will require high-performing, low-power processors like those from Qualcomm, with features like 3G and 4G wireless wide area network (WWAN) connectivity,” said Mike Angiulo, corporate vice president of Windows planning, hardware and PC ecosystem. “We collaborate with Qualcomm because Snapdragon-powered devices will help Windows 8 consumers experience more out of their Windows device and enable hardware manufacturers to try exciting new PC designs.”

Qualcomm will be showcasing the latest Snapdragon-powered tablets and smartphones at COMPUTEX TAIPEI 2011. For more information on Snapdragon processors, please visit www.qualcomm.com/snapdragon.

Qualcomm Atheros Announces Highly Integrated Connectivity Solution for Superior Performance in Smartphones and Tablets [May 31, 2011]

WCN3660 Combo Chip Brings Dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and FM Radio Connectivity to Qualcomm’s 28nm Snapdragon Family of Mobile Processors

Qualcomm Atheros Inc., the networking and connectivity subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM), today announced it has begun sampling its new WCN3660 combo chip, which is designed to bring expanded connectivity options to the Qualcomm Snapdragon™ family of mobile processors. Optimized for use in smartphone and tablet devices, the WCN3660 supports an extensive suite of advanced Wi-Fi connectivity options with multiple Wi-Fi standards. The WCN3660 chip also supports Bluetooth 3.0 and Bluetooth 4.0 and the worldwide FM radio frequency band. Designed to interface with Qualcomm’s 28nm Snapdragon mobile processors, the new WCN3660 is a highly integrated solution, enabling customers to provide enhanced connectivity in mobile devices, while reducing the board area required for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth® and FM radio support by up to 50 percentover existing solutions.

“With the launch of the WCN3660, Qualcomm Atheros is demonstrating its commitment to provide an extensive connectivity portfolio of discrete, combo and integrated platform solutions to our smartphone and tablet customers,” said Amir Faintuch, senior vice president and general manager, consumer business unit, Qualcomm Atheros. “Qualcomm Atheros is pleased to help enable a new generation of mobile devices that connect users to the growing array of must-have social, media and cloud applications.”

The WCN3660 chip features single-stream, 802.11n with dual-band (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz) operation to enhance mobile wireless multimedia applications. The chip also supports mobile hotspot functionality for up to 14 clients with industry standards-based Wi-Fi Direct™ for peer-to-peer wireless connections without an access point present. The WCN3660 also will support the emerging Wi-Fi Display™ standard for streaming video directly from a smartphone or tablet to a Wi-Fi-enabled display or television.

The WCN3660 chip has an integrated dual-band power amplifier, transmit antenna switch and on-chip matching circuit, which allows the chip to meet the most stringent carrier requirements while minimizing solution size and power consumption. Bluetooth standards supported by the WCN3660 chip include high-speed Bluetooth 3.0 for audio streaming and device connectivity, and low-power Bluetooth 4.0, which is designed to work with low-power sensors, health monitoring devices and other low data-rate applications. The FM radio capabilities of the WCN3660 include support for both FM receiver and transceiver functionality; worldwide FM band support (76 to 108 MHz); RDS support for Europe and RBDS support for the U.S.; autonomous search, seek and manual tuning; and active noise cancellation.

The WCN3660 chip is compatible and directly interfaces with Snapdragon devices manufactured in the 28nm process, including the MSM8960™, MSM8270™, MSM8x30™ and APQ8064™. It uses a fully calibrated, wafer-level package smaller than 15mm-squared for direct mounting to a PCB for ease of design and implementation. The WCN3660’s small size and low power consumption in both active and standby modes help provide excellent battery life in mobile devices. To minimize interference and provide high LTE data throughput and optimal audio quality, the WCN3660 interfaces directly with the centralized coexistence manager in the Snapdragon device to provide real-time, intelligent packet arbitration and scheduling, providing an LTE/ISM coexistence solution that is optimized beyond the capabilities of standard filtering approaches.

“Qualcomm Atheros is utilizing its systems expertise to deliver a highly innovative and integrated architecture for connectivity solutions in smartphones and tablets,” said David Favreau, vice president of product management, Qualcomm Atheros. “The new WCN3660 combo chip with the Qualcomm Snapdragon mobile processors provides a powerful solution for always-connected mobile devices that support WAN, WLAN and WPAN connections.”

The WCN3660 is optimized to work with a broad range of mobile operating systems including Android, next-generation Windows and Windows Phone, Palm® WebOS™ and QNX®. Samples of the WCN3660 chip are available now, with a commercial release scheduled for late 2011.

QDevNet | QDSP Access Program – Multimedia Optimization [March 23, 2011]

Qualcomm is helping device manufacturers to differentiate their smartphone and tablet offerings by providing them the tools, documentation and sample code to enable them to optimize their multimedia solutions running on our hardware. Device manufacturers can augment or modify the multimedia suite with their own features, or work with independent software vendors (ISVs) to customize their optimizations for execution on Qualcomm chipset audio-video acceleration hardware.

We will be making tools, documentation and sample code available for the following chipsets:

  • MSM8x60™
  • MSM8960™
  • MSM8270™
  • MXM8x55™
  • MSM7x30™
  • MSM7x27™

Qualcomm’s DSP Access Program Debuts [March 22, 2011]

Program Enables Manufacturers (OEMs) and Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) to Optimize Multimedia Solutions Utilizing Qualcomm Audio and Video Acceleration Hardware

… Both OEMs and ISVs can optimize the features and performance of their multimedia software for execution on Qualcomm chipset audio-video acceleration hardware. Qualcomm will offer software development tools that the OEM or ISV can utilize to compile (C/C++) or hand-code (assembly) their proprietary algorithms on Qualcomm’s optimized audio-video processor architectures. These tools are provided with training and support documentation to assist OEMs and ISVs with their audio/video programming on supported chipsets. Additional details on the Qualcomm Developer Network DSP Access Program are available on the Qualcomm Developer Network (http://developer.qualcomm.com/multimedia). …

Dual Cores—Is Anyone Really taking Advantage of Them? [By Liat Ben-Zur, July 8, 2011]

I recently spoke with Kevin Kwang of ZD Net Asia to discuss the state of mobile multi-core processors. I pointed out that while it’s exciting to see powerful, dual-core Snapdragon™ processors commercially available (in products like the HTC EVO™ 3D and HP TouchPad), if developers aren’t coding their applications with distinct APIs that take advantage of multiple cores, the power of the hardware is often underutilized.

ZDNet Asia: Lack of Software Expertise Dampens Multicore Use

The reality is that this technology trend of multi-cores can be somewhat confusing for most developers. Most are writing downloadable applications, which are only able to take advantage of the HLOS APIs exposed by the platform provider. Most developers are just not exposed to multiple core technology via the standard HLOS API sets that they use every day to build their applications.

Qualcomm recognizes this, and we’re spending a lot of time helping to bridge the gap between what the technology under the hood has the capability of doing with the actual user experiences that developers enable. We want to help expose the power of the system solution, help connect the dots between low-level hardware, high-level software and high-level apps. Qualcomm is focusing on heterogeneous multi processing [or asynchronous SMP, see earlier] as opposed to SMP which means the system can be extremely optimized based on the load. Of course this furthers the need for developers to understand how to take advantage of this flexibility. That’s why we spend so much time working with developers to optimize things like multimedia performance today.

For example, Qualcomm and its subsidiary Qualcomm Innovation Center, Inc. (QuIC) are investing more energy into middleware and web application frameworks that distribute loading of heavy tasks like WebKit, V8 and HTML5 features. Since roughly 70% of web pages are images, we have been working to make image decoding in WebKit to be asynchronousand multi-threaded (optimized for dual-core computing). In addition, Qualcomm works closely with many HLOS providers to make sure that effective APIs are being exposed that take advantage of the parallel processing capabilities of multiple cores.

Qualcomm and QuIC are also investing in optimizing LLVM and the relevant runtimes such as Android Renderscript today and longer term for OpenCL and Google’s PNaCL to better take advantage of our multi-core hardware.

The real differentiation for Qualcomm comes in how we enable the developer community to take advantage of our processors. We’re beyond simply marketing the “speeds and feeds” of our hardware specs. Qualcomm’s real differentiation comes in how we’re enabling the community to take advantage of all the possibilities of true mobile computing power.

MobileBeat Sponsor: What Qualcomm is doing for consumer [July 12, 2011]

At the 2011 MobileBeat conference, Qualcomm vice president of product management Raj Talluri discusses the chip maker’s focus on benefiting the end consumer.

What is the biggest challenge for Qualcomm in engaging the consumer?

For Qualcomm, to launch a product that the end consumer can enjoy, we must work with a laundry list of people. Using mobile payments as an example, we spend our time interacting with partners like Google that create secure operating systems. Next we work with the operator to launch the system. We engage service providers like Paypal or Citybank to enable financial transactions. And we collaborate with phone makers like HTC to launch the app on their phone. There is a lot of plumbing that we take care of before it can reach the consumer. We create the machine.

Today, 3G is pretty widespread, but what are you doing to move the needle toward 4G?

We launched the first 4G phone, the HTC Thunderbolt on Verizon, so we have the best 4G solution out there today. We focus on how to integrate, how to pull all these aspects together onto one chip. Put it together and you get lower costs, better power. We announced our integrated 4G plus apps processor called 8960, which will support Windows 8. The next generation of 4G phones that will come out in the first half of next year will all be using integrated 4G plus apps processor.

A theme of this year’s MobileBeat is mobile payments. How is Qualcomm working within this new sub-industry?

The issue with financial transactions on mobile is the limit on how much money you can move, given security parameters. We are spending time at Qualcomm to build an infrastructure that secures financial payments and lifts the limit. The infrastructure includes hardware inside the processor and software that allows applications to run inside a secure environment, which is authenticated with by a key mechanism. You’ll see products late this year or early next.

Are you partnering with anyone exciting for the consumer?

Scalado, a European company, came up with a really exciting technology that processes images in the JPEG domain very fast. We built the hardware inside our developer platform, Snapdragon, to take pictures at high speeds and compress them into the perfect shot. Scalado then built their application to complements our hardware. The app allows the user to choose a face from those high speed-taken photos and layers it smoothly on your end picture. It’s a total solution for mobile picture taking.


2 Comments

  1. […] Next-gen Snapdragon S4 class SoCs — exploiting TSMC’s 28nm process first — coming in December [Aug 9 – Nov 25, […]

  2. […] with the existing Cortex-A5/Krait-based offerings till the end of 2012 [Sept 30 – Dec 7, 2012]- Next-gen Snapdragon S4 class SoCs — exploiting TSMC’s 28nm process first — coming in December [Aug 9 – Nov 25, 2011]- Qualcomm Snapdragon SoCs with a new way of easy identification [Aug 4 – […]

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