Mobile processor leader Qualcomm used its analyst day to rev its product line, upping the ante on competitors angling for the hot smartphone market.
Qualcomm held its financial analyst meeting Wednesday in New York City, and turned what is typically a rehashing of information for financial analysts into a day of major product announcements. Not letting competitors get too comfy, Qualcomm announced a new Snapdragon SoC, Krait CPU, Adreno GPU, and Gobi modem for 2014.
The Snapdragon 805 is designed for clamshells, tablets, and high-end smartphones and targeted to be available in the first half of 2014. The 805 uses a new custom quad-core Krait 450, which Qualcomm says increases performance between 5 and 10 percent. a nominal bump but enough to keep it competitive.
Qualcomm also nudged chip frequency from 2.3 to 2.5 GHz and increased memory bandwidth to 25.6 GB/s. I will be very interested to see how the Krait 450 lines up with Intel's Silvermont CPU in smartphones.
Bigger improvements were made to the Snapdragon 805's graphics and video subsystem. The Adreno 420 will provide a 40 percent combined 3D and GPU-compute improvement over the Adreno 330, the company said. It'll be interesting to see how this stacks up against Nvidia's Logan.
The new Adreno core now supports 4K displays and HEVC H.265 video. The combination of the two is important as 4K will only become a reality if it can be downloaded and stored more easily than it is today.
The final adder to the 805 was a gigapixel image-processing core, required to more efficiently and quickly capture extremely high resolution videos and pictures. I hope this can be paired with a MEMS-based camera or Pelican's sensor for Lytro-like images that are always in focus.
Finally, as you would expect, Qualcomm introduced new LTE radios and RF transceivers, an area where the company has been giving its competitors headaches for years. Qualcomm upped the ante with its fourth-generation gear, the Gobi 9x35, a discrete modem supporting carrier aggregation up to 40 MHz for both LTE TDD and FDD CAT 6 providing max downloads of 300 Mbit/s. The 9x35 is 20nm, too, meaning that it is assured to be relatively small.
— Patrick Moorhead is Principal of market watcher Moor Insights & Strategy in Austin, Texas.