Intel, Mediatek and Allwinner have all come out with new SoC announcements at Mobile World Congress and Qualcomm is no different. By far the most interesting release is what it calls the "first commercial" 64-bit Octa-Core chipset with integrated global LTE support. The list of features and technologies included on the chipset is impressive.
The Snapdragon 615 integrates 8 x ARM Cortex-A53 cores that opterate on the newer 64-bit ARMv8 architecture while supporting 32-bit for backwards compatibility. Qualcomm is not using a custom designed CPU core for this chipset but the company has stated it will have its own custom 64-bit core sometime in 2015. This 8-core model is divided into a pair of quad-core clusters that will be tuned to different clock speed and power levels, offering the ability to run slightly more efficiently than would be possible with all cores tuned to the highest performance.
Snapdragon 610 is essentially the same design but is limited to a quad-core, single cluster setup.
Both of these parts will integrate the Qualcomm custom built Adreno 405 GPU that brings a DX11 class feature set, along with OpenGL ES 3.0 and OpenCL 1.2. The Adreno 405 performance is still unknown but it should be able to compete with the likes of PowerVR's Series6 used in the Apple A7 and Intel Merrifield parts. Quad HD resolutions are supported up to 2560×1600 and Miracast integration enables wireless display. H.265 hardware decode acceleration also found its way into the 615/610.
Connectivity features of the Snapdragon 615/610 include 802.11ac wireless as well as the company's 3rd generation LTE modem. Category 4 and carrier aggregation are optional.
Qualcomm has publicly stated that the move to 8-core processors with software lacking the capability to manage them properly was a poor decision. But it would appear that the "core race" has infected just about everyone.
BARCELONA – February 24, 2014 – Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM) today announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., has added the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 610 and 615 chipsets to the Snapdragon 600 tier for high-end mobile computing devices. Both new chipsets integrate Qualcomm Technologies’ 3rd Generation LTE modem, supporting Category 4 data rates for new requirements such as LTE-Broadcast and LTE Dual SIM Dual Active (DSDA). The Snapdragon 610 and 615 chipsets are designed to work with Qualcomm Technologies’ RF360 Front End solution, enabling OEMs to ship a single 5-mode global LTE SKU across all major bands and modes worldwide – a requirement for this highly competitive handset tier. In addition to LTE support, both chipsets also integrate critical 3G technologies, including HSPA+ (up to 42Mbps), CDMA, and TD-SCDMA.
The Snapdragon 615 chipset is the mobile industry’s first commercially announced octa-core solution with integrated LTE and 64-bit capabilities, while the Snapdragon 610 chipset supports LTE and 64-bit capabilities using quad-core processing. With the launch of the Snapdragon 610 and 615 chipsets, and recently announcedSnapdragon 410 chipset, the Qualcomm Technologies portfolio contains a compelling lineup of 4G LTE solutions with 64-bit capabilities. The Snapdragon 615, 610 and 410 chipsets also support ARMv8, the latest instruction set for ARM compatible devices. The ARMv8 architecture offers the most power-efficient implementation while maintaining compatibility with existing 32-bit software. Together, the Snapdragon 615, 610, and 410 chipsets are designed to minimize OEM development costs while accelerating ramp time and adoption. All three chipsets are pin compatible, including support of the same Qualcomm power management, audio, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, RF, and RF360 solutions to enable scalable, yet consistent hardware designs. Scalability also extends to software, with identical software used across each of three chipsets, including 64-bit ARMv8 CPU support. Additionally, each chipset integrates an identical LTE modem, utilizing the same core technology that has already shipped in hundreds of millions of prior chipsets used in handsets and certified by operators across the globe.
Qualcomm Snapdragon 610 and 615 chipsets also feature Qualcomm Technologies’ Adreno™ 405 GPU, bringing an Adreno 400 series GPU from the Snapdragon 800 premium tier to the Snapdragon 600 high-end tier for the first time. The Adreno 405 GPU distinguishes itself by not only enabling superior graphics performance, but also in supporting the latest mobile graphics APIs like DirectX 11.2 and Open GL ES3.0 with added support of hardware accelerated geometry shading and hardware tessellationfor more detailed, realistic mobile games and visually stunning user interfaces. The Adreno 405 also supports Full Profile Open CL for superior GPGPU compute, video and image processing. The display engine supports up to Quad High Definition (2560×1600) displays and offers Miracast support for wireless streaming of multimedia content. Wireless content can be sent with high efficiency through the use of the embedded H.265 hardware decoder and integrated Qualcomm®VIVE™ 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1 solutions.
“Qualcomm Technologies is redefining the user experience for high-end mobile devices by amassing the unparalleled trilogy of an industry-leading LTE modem, 64-bit multicore processing, and superior multimedia,” said Murthy Renduchintala, executive vice president, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., and co-president, QCT. “64-bit processing capabilities are now an industry requirement for this tier, and we are meeting our customers’ needs with both octa- and quad-core configurations, as well as bringing our superior Adreno 405 graphics and powerful suite of connectivity technologies to the Snapdragon 600 family of chipsets.”
Qualcomm Technologies anticipates releasing a Qualcomm Reference Design (QRD) version of the Snapdragon 610 and 615 processors, expanding the broad QRD portfolio of Snapdragon 200 and 400 processors to support a new family of devices. The QRD program offers Qualcomm Technologies’ leading technical innovations, differentiated hardware and software, easy customization options that enable customers to save engineering costs and development time, access to an ecosystem of hardware and software providers, and testing and acceptance readiness for regional and leading operator requirements. This allows for OEMs to rapidly deliver differentiated, high-end smartphones to value-conscious consumers. The QRD versions of Snapdragon 610 and 615 chipsets are expected to be available in the fourth quarter of 2014.
The Snapdragon 610 and 615 processors are anticipated to begin sampling in the third quarter of 2014 and the first commercial devices are expected in the fourth quarter of 2014. For more information about these new products as well as the newest devices powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon chipsets, please visit Qualcomm during MWC 2014 (Exhibit Hall 3, Exhibit # E310), Feb, 24 -27 in Barcelona, or visit www.qualcomm.com/snapdragon.