Qualcomm is already a big name in the smartphone and tablet market, but the U.S.-based firm is now looking to break into a whole new market – the set-top box (STB) market.
The STB market is currently dominated by two names, the U.S.-based Broadcom and French-Italian chipmaker STMicroelectronics. Currently the STB processor market is worth some $2 billion, and Qualcomm has decided it's time for a piece of the action.
"For several years now, the lucrative market for STB audio-visual processors has been dominated by Broadcom and STM," said Jordan Selburn, senior principal analyst, consumer platforms, at IHS. "While a handful of vendors also competed, mostly with chips targeted at lower-performance systems, the two powerhouses virtually owned the high-end market and accounted for roughly 80 percent of total STB processor revenue. Now Qualcomm has entered the STB market, and the incumbent leaders will face a serious challenger that has its sights set on domination."
The processor that Qualcomm is entering the STB space with is the Snapdragon 600 MPQ8064, a quad-core ARM chip based on the Krait architecture and is capable of processing the High-Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) of a 1080p high-definition signal, but not the next-generation ultra-high definition (UHD) signals.
In September Qualcomm announced it was partnering with Technicolor, a French top-tier STB manufacturer, to power the Svelte box (short for Stimulating Video Experience over LTE). The Snapdragon 600 will also bring 4G Long Term Evolution, to the Svelte STB, a first for the market.
Qualcomm already owns more than half of the mobile equipment baseband integrated circuits market, and has managed to score big wins inside flagship devices such as the iPhone and iPad. With revenues in excess of $13.0 billion in 2012, Qualcomm has been looking for new opportunities in which to expand, and the STB processor market seems to be a good fit.