MWC 2015: Qualcomm, Why Wait?
Qualcomm has been one great supporter of the smartphone age and they have been a huge contributor to the advancements in the industry being one of the top chip suppliers in the industry. So many Android devices are running on one form of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processor that it might as well be considered that all Androids run on Qualcomm processors. Being the lead brand in processors last year Qualcomm will definitely not miss the Mobile World Congress 2015 (MWC) and do some showcasing within the show as well.
The previous year saw a decorative year for Qualcomm as their Snapdragon chips becomes a preference over other brands for both manufacturers and consumers alike. They released the Snapdragon 810 and we saw plenty of devices starting to use the 810 platform towards the end of the year and beginning of this year. So to say the least, the 810 is not that old of a processor and should still be good for a while. There are however issues with the 810 platform based on the ARM design, particularly with overheating. So what did Snapdragon do to counter that? Announce a new Snapdragon of course.
Welcome to the sneak peek of the 820 Snapdragon. This new Qualcomm chip will replace the 810 as the king of Snapdragons eventually as we all expect. So what is the difference? The 810 used ARM’s A57 and A53 cores while the 820 will be using ARM’s new 64-bit Kyro cores as its main powerhouse. While it sounds potential there are not further details on this core and Qualcomm only stated that they will begin testing the processor beginning mid of 2015 and we may see some official devices by the end of 2015; sounds about right.
Talking about the new processor brings us to Zeroth. Qualcomm did briefly talk about Zeroth in their MWC 2015 showcase. So what is Zeroth exactly? What it is in plain words is just basically an attempt to make our devices smarter through their more advanced processing chips. How? There are mentions of cognitive behaviour learning, learning human interaction behaviour, behavioural learning, action anticipation, behavioural emulation, human-style problem solving around this technology. To sum up then it would be a platform where the chip will process data and information on how we use our phones or any other devices for that matter so that the system will automatically pick up our routines and acts based on this information. For example, turning on your TV the moment you sit on the couch. It is wishful thinking and sounds rather like a Tony Stark based technology but a promising fantasy, at least the way we see it.
Qualcomm’s big chip announcement is definitely a headliner but they have other good news for all of us as well. The fingerprint technology in the mobile industry picked up in no time thanks to Apple’s Touch ID software. As the tech is currently being picked up by plenty Qualcomm is sure not one to miss out. They have developed a new fingerprint sensor technology that would most probably see a change of trend in the current lines of fingerprint sensory. The ordinary fingerprint technology currently uses capacitive sensor technology, one that is popularly used to map your fingerprints in 2D and electrical waves. Qualcomm has figured out that using Ultrasonic sensors for the fingerprint technology makes it much more effective. It uses sound to create a 3D map of your fingerprint. That means every single dimple on your finger, ridgelines or whatever mini in-grown swirls will be picked up by the sensor and used as the password for your devices. They call it Sense ID and it will work on plenty of materials like sapphire glass, cloth, and some metals. Which means a greater flexibility in the casings that you use too. Even better, the Sense ID will be much less sensitive to any type of moisture or impurities on the sensor itself. Good news over here, the Sense ID will not only come with future models of the Snapdragons but will be available to the 810 once ready and eventually make it to the 400 and 600 series.
Let us talk about LTE technology now. Just in case you are wondering why we talk about LTE when talking about processing chips, it is important to note that the theoretical speed of your data connection does not mean that your device can take full advantage of it. How much of it is used by your device is determined on how much the particular device can process through before maxing itself out. All this is determined by your processor’s data receiver or network processing unit. In this department, Qualcomm have actually bumped up speeds for us. For one development, they have ‘almost’ perfected the LTE-U (U for Unlicensed) tehcnology. What they have done is use the 5GHz wave that is commonly used by WiFi connections to boost speeds of normal LTE connections. Basically what it does is it rides on the WiFi connections available indoors and uses the ordinary LTE signal instead of relying on one source of network to boost speeds. There were some concerns about multiple WiFi sources and interference when they were talking about this but they have developed and tested this technology to work with even the most WiFi crowded zones.
On another note, Cyanogen has been going through a re-branding. How Qualcomm is connected to this matter is that Qualcomm is actually in a new partnership with Cyanogen this time. What this means for Cyanogen is that they will get their very proud Cyanogen OS into Qualcomm’s developmental units known as Qualcomm Reference Devices (QRD). How that is going to help Cyanogen boost their name in the industry is by the distribution of QRDs to Qualcomm’s many customers. The QRDs used to come with the plain old original version of Android and are made and shipped to Qualcomm’s clients so that they can easily develop on the QRD or plainly re-brand them and sell them straight to customers. From this moment on it will be Cyanogen that has its Android based Cyanogen OS in the QRDs. The QRDs in particular that is affected by this partnership is the ones with Snapdragon 200, 400 and 600 series SoC.