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Qualcomm launches mobile convergence platform

Hyper-connective Snapdragon platform could power future ultramobile PCs, smartphones and handheld gaming consoles
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

Qualcomm has launched a new chipset platform for portable devices, claiming it will offer a basis for mobile convergence across consumer and computing environments.

The platform, called Snapdragon, is based on a 1GHz processor called Scorpion and Qualcomm's 600MHz digital signal processor (DSP). It supports an impressive array of connectivity options, including CDMA, UMTS (3G), Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and WLAN, and is also capable of receiving a variety of mobile broadcast signals, such as DVB-H and MediaFLO.

Snapdragon also supports MP3 and AAC playback, 3D gaming, on-board cameras of up to 12 megapixels and GPS. Qualcomm claims that battery-life issues — which could be expected to arise as the result of using a 1GHz processor — are countered by optimised CPU and DSP cores.

"Qualcomm will bring low power capabilities through being a pioneer of CDMA chipsets," the company's senior vice president of marketing and product management, Luis Pineda, told ZDNet UK on Monday. "We will leverage that expertise and bring maximised performance at low power. Our goal is to provide the industry's lowest power consumption for handsets, gaming devices and computing devices."

Samsung is lined up to be one of the first manufacturers to incorporate the technology, and chipsets based on Snapdragon should become available towards the end of 2007, with products appearing the following year. Pineda claimed these could include portable games consoles which are "more powerful than the Sony PSP", ultramobile PCs, PDAs and smartphones.

"The Snapdragon platform represents the next stage of mobility, opening the door to new opportunities," claimed Dr Sanjay Jha, president of Qualcomm CDMA Technologies, on Monday, adding that Qualcomm is "driving a shift that is taking place in portable electronics, by adding ubiquitous connectivity with zero compromise for the user experience to an extended range of devices".

Qualcomm also announced on Monday that it was expanding its "single chip" family to include compatibility for both UMTS and HSDPA — 3G's souped-up successor. According to the company, the QSC6270 will be the first chip to "integrate a monolithic die — with integrated radio transceiver, baseband modem and multimedia processor — together with power management functionality into a single chip for WCDMA (UMTS) and HSDPA handsets".

According to Jha, the new chip would "significantly drive down the cost of 3G handsets and considerably reduce time to market".

The company also revealed it would be working more closely with Motorola to bring UMTS handsets to the global market, as the phone manufacturer has now approved Qualcomm's Mobile Station Modem chipsets for use in its 3G phones.

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