From the connected home of the future to advancements in mobile technology, you can stay up to date on the latest innovations with Qualcomm’s collection of industry analyst resources.
MAY 11, 2017
With the surge of connected devices in the home and public places, implementing security features for IoT devices is a need felt industry-wide. Qualcomm Technologies has a strong foundation in device security that stems from our experience with mobile platforms, and therefore is uniquely positioned to deliver IoT security solutions required in consumer and industrial applications.
In this webinar, you’ll learn about the unique approach of Qualcomm Technologies towards IoT security, and how its solutions scale across the Company’s chipset portfolio to help address the needs and security requirements of today’s IoT devices.
FEB 8, 2017
Immersive experiences stimulate our senses, drawing us in, taking us to another place, and keeping us present in the moment. Immersion enhances everyday experiences, making them more realistic, engaging, and satisfying. We want immersive experiences wherever we are and on whatever device we are using -- whether we are playing a video game on our smartphone, watching 360° videos on our virtual reality headset, or learning to cook with our augmented reality glasses. Full immersion is achieved by simultaneously focusing on the broader dimensions of visual quality, sound quality, and intuitive interactions.
In this webinar, we’ll discuss the next generation technologies driving immersion, specifically:
If you’re looking to create great mobile experiences, optimization isn’t optional: it’s a crucial step that helps transform good ideas into great execution. In our previous “Start Cooking with Heterogeneous Computing Tools on QDN” blog, we discussed the concept of heterogeneous computing and how it can help you get more from mobile hardware by sending computational tasks to the best suited processor. Heterogeneous computing is designed to help you achieve better application performance while improving thermal and power efficiency.
However, not all systems capable of heterogeneous computing are created equal and it’s important to understand why. Heterogeneous computing is both a computational technique and a hardware architecture. To achieve greater benefits, you are better served with hardware architected for heterogeneous computing from the ground up along with a software stack that facilitates heterogeneous computing techniques. It’s the combination of purpose-built hardware and a software stack offering granular control within a larger framework of system abstraction that allows for the deep optimizations that heterogeneous computing can deliver.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon Mobile Platform is designed on these principles. This starts with the microarchitecture – the choices made in platform circuitry that include how individual processors are engineered for high performance and how to optimize compute paths between the processors. Let’s look at the main components of the Snapdragon mobile platform and a few of the microarchitecture considerations that went into its design:
Qualcomm Kryo 280 CPU
Designed to handle complex workloads like web browsing and in-game artificial intelligence, the Kryo 280 features an octa-core processor with independent high efficiency and high performance core clusters. During normal operation, the high efficiency cores run most tasks while the high-performance cores activate for anything needing more power.
Qualcomm Hexagon 682 DSP
With the Hexagon wide Vector eXtensions (HVX), the Hexagon DSP excels at applications requiring heavy vector data processing, such as 6-DOF (or Degrees of Freedom) head motion tracking for virtual reality, image processing, and neural network computations. With a 1024-bit instruction word capability and dual execution of the control code processor and the computational code processor within the DSP, Hexagon can achieve breakthrough performance without draining system power.
Qualcomm Adreno 540 GPU
Ideal for arithmetic-heavy workloads that require substantial, parallel number crunching like 3D graphics rendering and camcorder image stabilization, the Adreno GPU is engineered to achieve improved power efficiency and 40% better performance than predecessors. Designed to deliver up to 25% faster graphics rendering and 60x more display colors compared to previous designs, the Adreno GPU supports real-life-quality visuals, and can perform stunning visual display feats like stitching together 4K 360 video in real time.
Heterogeneous computing in microarchitecture design
Beyond the performance enhancements among the individual processors, the Snapdragon mobile platform was designed to optimize the use of the processors together. For example, the Hexagon DSP can bypass DDR memory and the associated data shuffling CPU cycles by streaming data directly from sensors to the DSP cache. Similarly, the Adreno GPU supports 64-bit virtual addressing, allowing for shared virtual memory (SVM) and efficient co-processing with the Kryo CPU. These are just two of the microarchitecture design choices in the Snapdragon mobile platform that make it cutting-edge for heterogeneous computing.
As we noted at the beginning of this post, heterogeneous computing is also a technique. And to truly support heterogeneous computing requires a software stack that provides developers the abstractions and the control to leverage the optimizations in the hardware per the requirements of their application.
To program the DSP or the GPU for heterogeneous computation, and to maximize their performance, developers can use the Qualcomm Hexagon SDK and the Qualcomm Adreno SDK, respectively. These SDKs open a toolbox of controls allowing for precision manipulation of data and computational resources.
For system-wide heterogeneous computing control, Qualcomm Symphony system manager SDK provides the software utilities designed to achieve better performance and lower power consumption from the Snapdragon mobile platform. Symphony is designed to manage the entire platform in different configurations so that the most efficient and effective combination of processors and specialized cores are chosen to get the job done as quickly as possible, with minimal power consumption.
On top of these SDKs it is possible for developers to build their applications directly – many developers opt for this route. However, there is a growing ecosystem of SDKs, frameworks and supporting libraries for accelerating development within a given application domain. Two examples of this are QDN's Adreno SDK for Vulkan for the Vulkan graphics API and our recently released Snapdragon VR SDK.
How to Put Heterogeneous Computing Techniques into Practice with Tools from Qualcomm Developer Network
The Snapdragon mobile platform’s microarchitecture, software development kits and high-level frameworks layer upon each other to provide developers ultimate control of their application performance and power usage. This combination of hardware purposely designed for heterogeneous computing and software allowing the use of heterogeneous computing techniques is at the heart of delivering great user experiences.
Whether you’re a developer that has always written code that executes serially and are interested in how to push more work to other processors, or whether you already have heterogeneous computing know-how and want to use it more effectively – perhaps wanting precise control over the dynamic distribution of your workloads – visit QDN for the resources you need to level up your heterogeneous computing skills.
Over the coming months, Qualcomm Technologies will roll out changes and updates to our product brand positioning to best articulate the value of our technology and products for our customers and their end users. One of the first updates is how we apply the Qualcomm Snapdragon brand.
For decades, the semiconductor industry has used the term “processor” to mean the component that powers the most advanced devices. It’s a word that Qualcomm Technologies has embraced over the years with our Snapdragon brand, or as we say — our Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. But the word is an inadequate representation of what the technology actually is, and the solutions that tens of thousands of Qualcomm Technologies innovators have worked on.
In truth, Snapdragon is more than a single component, a piece of silicon, or what many would misinterpret as the CPU; it’s an anthology of technology, comprising hardware, software, and services that are not fully captured in a word like “processor.” That is why Qualcomm Technologies is refining our terminology by referring to Snapdragon as a “platform” instead of a processor.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon Mobile Platform takes our offerings beyond a single chip. While the single processor form factor is truly a system-on-a-chip (SoC), housing custom technology like an integrated modem, CPU, GPU, and DSP, there is a lot more going on outside of the chip that is designed to ultimately support a wide variety of devices. Technologies from the RF Front End — without which your mobile device wouldn’t be able to acquire a signal, make a phone call, or surf the web — to Qualcomm Quick Charge, the Qualcomm Aqstic audio DAC, Wi-Fi (802.11ac and 11ad), touch controllers, and finger print technology, are all engineered to work together with the SoC to deliver a superior and smooth user experience.
With the Snapdragon mobile platform we can now articulate the value that we provide to a device manufacturer — from developing algorithms for great pictures and videos, to making sure that the battery is long lasting. More importantly, the word “platform” will be used to explain the combined key user experiences — camera, connectivity, battery life, security, immersion — that these essential technologies are designed to deliver. And these experiences are not just for smartphones anymore, but are applicable across verticals such as automotive, IoT, and mobile PCs.
Moving forward, only premium mobile platforms will retain the Snapdragon brand, while processors in the 200 tier will fall under the new Qualcomm Mobile name. Our belief is that bringing the 200-level mobile platforms under the new Qualcomm Mobile brand will help differentiate entry-level and high-volume solutions from our flagship and high-end Snapdragon premium mobile experience platforms. Our goal is to create better clarity and expectations for our customers.
The shift isn’t seismic, but we believe it is a step in the right direction and that it will help us better demonstrate the overall value of a chip, beyond “speeds and feeds.” It better acknowledges those who have done extensive work on the entire platform, and key acquisitions that Qualcomm Technologies has made to bolster its position in the semiconductor industry. We believe it will also help our customers better demonstrate the overall value that Qualcomm Mobile and Qualcomm Snapdragon technologies bring to their products. As we expand our presence outside of mobile, we want our nomenclature to reflect all the places we’re making a difference, from mobile PCs and servers, to automotive, IP cameras, drones, VR/AR headsets, and beyond.
Check back here as we update additional products and technologies.