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Hexagon DSP is better than ever, with new ways to extend battery life

Feb 25, 2015

Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.

The newly announced Qualcomm Snapdragon 425, 618 and 620 processors are designed to deliver a huge performance punch, not to mention an array of very desirable multimedia features that include dual camera image signal processors, 192KHz/ 24 bit high-fidelity audio, and Qualcomm QuickCharge 2.0. But there is another hidden key feature that all three processors have in common, a dedicated customizable digital signal processor (DSP) processor that operates stealthily while sipping very little battery life for key use cases in speech, audio, sensors and more.

The Qualcomm Hexagon DSP is not new to Snapdragon processors—it has been used in modem and multimedia algorithms for many generations—but this latest iteration extends the Hexagon DSP to tackle an even larger array of tasks. These tasks commonly require very low power, real-time execution performance and programmability that the Hexagon DSP is better equipped to handle than other dedicated technology blocks inside the Snapdragon processor. The DSP supports programming in the C language, enabling quick porting and offers dynamic loadable code technology, allowing updates after the product has shipped. This allows developers and device manufacturers to move frequently used code from the CPU to the DSP, or add custom and proprietary features to the Qualcomm Technologies audio/speech framework where it can run at lower power and provide lower latency.

We involved leading audio brands, including AM3D, Audyssey, Dolby, DTS, Harman-Kardon, NXP Software, Waves, and others, to support audio in a software framework for a wide variety of features. The DSP is designed to run efficiently while allowing the entire application processor to shut off. The result is long listen modes, as evidenced in our OnePlus One music marathon experiment.

Furthermore, OnePlus recently announced a collaboration with Waves Audio to bring MaxxAudio® to the OnePlus One. MaxxAudio is a suite of sound enhancement technologies from Waves that also takes advantages of the capabilities of the Hexagon DSP designed to deliver hi-fidelity sound to your mobile device without compromising battery life.

Leading handset manufacturer OPPO has incorporated advanced speech processing from NXP Software’s LifeVibes technology that enables full band technology to handle VoIP calls in hands-free mode with automatic background suppression to filter out city and office noises, seamless echo cancellation without the traditional increase in power, and MIPS (millions of instructions per second) utilizing the low-power characteristics of the Hexagon DSP.

Here’s another example of how the Hexagon DSP is being used: If you are a proud owner of a Samsung GALAXY Note 4, powered by the Snapdragon 805, there are cool recording features called “meeting mode” and “interview mode” designed to allow users to intelligently select the voices they want to hear while filtering out the background noises using the multiple microphones built into the Note 4. These advanced audio recording algorithms are processed by the Hexagon DSP inside the Snapdragon 805 processor using Fortémedia’s AMAP technology.

There are a multitude of applications that the Hexagon DSP is capable of processing on its own. In the near future, expect to see applications tied to image and video enhancement, speech, gestures, and sensors that will take a tremendous load off of the CPU, hence extending battery life.

The Hexagon DSP is available throughout our Snapdragon tiers, and the latest is implemented in the Snapdragon 425, 618, and 620 processors. Read more about what’s so special about the DSP.  

Qualcomm Snapdragon and Qualcomm Hexagon are products of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.

Jerry Chang

Manager, Technical Marketing

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