Qualcomm’s isn’t really a brand that figures prominently into the average person’s understanding of the mobile space, and that’s exactly the issue that the San Diego-based semiconductor company is trying to tackle in its newest and most prominent CES keynote to date. Cringeworthy introduction aside (facepalm material as far as the eye could see), Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs took the stage to announce some big changes to its Snapdragon line of mobile chipsets.
The S-series moniker slapped onto the chipsets of yore is now officially dead — Qualcomm has just announced a slew of new mobile chipsets complete with some new naming conventions to go with them. Sitting atop the heap is the newly announced Snapdragon 800, which Qualcomm claims will run a full 75 percent faster than the existing Snapdragon S4 Pro (you know, the crazy-fast chipset used in devices like LG’s Optimus G and Nexus 4). It’ll be quite some time before we can test those claims for ourselves (the first Snapdragon 800s won’t see the light of day until around the middle of the year), but its components paint a pretty powerful picture.
The Snapdragon 800 will feature Krait 400 CPU cores that can run as fast as 2.3GHz, an Adreno 330 GPU, and some significant upgrades in terms of connectivity. Think support for LTE-Advanced (which allows for data speeds up to 150Mbps), as well as 802.11ac Wi-Fi. Of course, Jacobs did more than just talk about the 800 series — Guillermo del Toro made a guest appearance to plug Pacific Rim, prompting Jacobs to kick off an impressive clip of the film running off of an 800 series chipset.
Also on deck today was the Snapdragon 600, a considerable leap from its predecessor, the Snapdragon S4 Pro. It sports a few significant differences in architecture when compared to the S4 Pro — it can hit clock speeds of 1.9GHz, and features a slightly snappier version of the Adreno 320 GPU. When all is said and done, the 600 is said to be roughly 40 percent more powerful than the S4 Pro.
Naturally, not every mobile device is going to get a super-fast processor. Qualcomm is prepping chipsets for those entry-level and budget-conscious smartphones, as well, though there wasn’t much detail given today. Take the Snapdragon 200 series, for instance — it’s a more basic chipset that’s geared to provide solid (if not necessarily remarkable) battery life and performance for entry-level smartphones. A 400 series Snapdragon chipset is in the works, too, but Jacobs didn’t spend too much time digging into these little guys; they’ll be fleshed out in greater detail later this year.
As it happens, some of you may have stumbled upon the news a little early — a few prominent sites seem to have pushed news of the Snapdragon overhaul out a little prematurely before hastily taking them offline. Thankfully for Qualcomm though, the accidental release of these articles doesn’t seem to have stolen much thunder (which is really the last thing Qualcomm needs at this point). For what it’s worth, anyone who doubted that Qualcomm was capable of putting on a good show was soundly proven wrong tonight — surprise appearances from Big Bird, NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski, and a video address from Archbishop Desmond Tutu were just a few of the treats the company had in store for the audience. If its forthcoming Snapdragon chips (and its push for greater consumer recognition) goes pans out as well as its keynote has, we could be in store for some very impressive days to come from Qualcomm.