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Qualcomm moves beyond the processor to the platform

Qualcomm wants users to stop thinking of its Snapdragon processors as central processing units (CPU) and start thinking of them as enablers, platforms.

It says a Snapdragon is more than a single component, a piece of silicon, or what many would misinterpret as the CPU; it’s an anthology of technology, comprising hardware, software, and services that are not fully captured in a word like “processor.” That is why Qualcomm Technologies is refining its terminology by referring to Snapdragon as a “platform” instead of a processor.

While the single processor form factor is truly a system-on-a-chip (SoC), housing custom technology like an integrated modem, CPU, GPU (graphics processor), and DSP (digital signal processor), ISP (image signal processors) there is a lot more going on outside of the chip that is designed to ultimately support a wide variety of devices.

Technologies from the RF Front End — LTE modems and TruSignal without which a mobile device wouldn’t be able to acquire a signal, make a phone call, or surf the web, — to Qualcomm Quick Charge, the Qualcomm Aqstic audio DAC, Wi-Fi (802.11ac/ad and later ax), touch controllers, fingerprint technology, and Haven security, are all engineered to work together with the SoC to deliver a superior and smooth user experience.

Moving forward, only premium mobile platforms will retain the Snapdragon brand, while processors in the 200 tier will fall under the new Qualcomm Mobile name. The move will help differentiate entry-level and high-volume solutions from its flagship and high-end Snapdragon premium mobile experience platforms. The goal is to create better clarity and expectations for customers.

It helps Qualcomm better demonstrate the overall value of a chip, beyond “speeds and feeds.” It better acknowledges those who have done extensive work on the entire platform and key acquisitions that Qualcomm Technologies has made to bolster its position in the semiconductor industry. 

This is an interesting move, not “seismic” but one that may help Qualcomm distance its products from the plethora of other ARM foundries that are edging into the smartphone turf, usually competing on speeds and feeds – raw performance instead of across the broad range of things a platform does.

It should allow Qualcomm to show added value of a Snapdragon platform over any other processor.


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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!