Snapdragon is a suite of system on a chip (SoC) semiconductor products for mobile devices designed and marketed by Qualcomm Technologies Inc. The Snapdragon central processing unit (CPU) uses the ARM RISC instruction set. A single SoC may include multiple CPU cores, a graphics processing unit (GPU), a wireless modem, and other software and hardware to support a smartphone’s global positioning system (GPS), camera, gesture recognition and video. Snapdragon semiconductors are embedded in devices of various systems, including Android and Windows Phone devices. They are also used for netbooks, in cars, wearable devices and other devices. In addition to the processors, the Snapdragon line includes modems, wi-fi chips and mobile charging products.
The first Snapdragon product to be made available to consumer device manufacturers was the QSD8250, which was released in November 2007. It included the first 1 GHz processor for mobile phones. Qualcomm introduced its “Krait” micro architecture in the second generation of Snapdragon SoCs in 2011, allowing each processor core to adjust its speed based on the device’s needs. At the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show, Qualcomm introduced the first of the Snapdragon 800 series and renamed prior models as the 200, 400 and 600 series. Several new iterations have been introduced since, such as the Snapdragon 805, 810, 615 and 410. Qualcomm re-branded its modem products under the Snapdragon name in December 2014.
As of 2018, ASUS, HP and Lenovo have begun selling laptops with Snapdragon-based CPUs running Windows 10 under the name “Always Connected PCs”, marking an entry into the PC market for Qualcomm and the ARM architecture.
Snapdragon system on chip products typically include a graphics processing unit (GPU), a global positioning system (GPS) and a cellular modem integrated into a single package. It has software included that operates graphics, video and picture-taking. There are 19 different Snapdragon processors under the 400, 600 and the 800 product families spanning from low to high-end respectively, as well as wi-fi and mobile charging products. Some of their components include the Adreno graphics processing, the Qualcomm Hexagon DSP and processors using Qualcomm’s S4 processor architecture. In addition to smartphones, the 400 series is used in smart watches and the 602A is intended for electronics in cars.
The latest processor Qualcomm has brought up is the Snapdragon 855 with the highest clock speed in the market currently, competing mainly against Samsung’s exynos 9810, Kirin 980 and Apple’s A11 Bionic Chipset. Qualcomm announced the Snapdragon 835 SoC on November 17, 2016, which was built using Samsung’s 10-nanometer FinFET process. The new processor will have 30 percent more parts within the same space and will have 27 percent better performance with 40 percent less power. Due to Samsung’s role in manufacturing the chip, its mobile division also acquired the initial inventory of the chip. This means that no other OEM will be able to manufacture products containing the 835 until the release of Samsung’s next flagship device, the Galaxy S8.
At Computex 2017 in May, Qualcomm and Microsoft announced plans to launch Snapdragon-based laptops running Windows 10. It partnered with HP, Lenovo, and Asus to release slim portables and 2-in-1 devices powered by the Snapdragon 835. In December 2017, Qualcomm announced the 845. It has the same 10-nanometer manufacturing process as other products in the 800 series but introduced a new processor architecture designed for better battery life, photography, and for use with artificial intelligence apps. According to Qualcomm, it has 25-30 percent faster performance than the 835. In early 2018, Qualcomm introduced the 700 series, which sits between the 600 and 800 series in terms of pricing and performance.
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