Qualcomm to integrate LTE modem into next tablet chip

Qualcomm will start shipping a faster, more power-efficient Snapdragon chip for smartphones and tablets

Qualcomm later this year will start shipping test units of its next-generation tablet and smartphone chip, which will be faster and more power-efficient than existing chips and have an LTE modem.

The Snapdragon MSM8960 chip will be based on a new architecture designed to deliver five times better performance and use 75 percent less power than the architecture used in current Snapdragon chips, said Steve Mollenkopf, executive vice president at Qualcomm, during an earnings conference call on Wednesday.

Tablets and smartphones will require faster processors, graphics and modems as demand for data over networks grows, Mollenkopf said. The new chip couples faster CPUs with multimode 3G/4G LTE modems.

The new chip will also improve graphics capabilities compared to its predecessors. One feature will include support for HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface) output to plug smartphones or tablets into TV sets to play games or watch high-definition movies.

"It delivers console-quality graphics for rich on-device gaming and high-definition video," Mollenkopf said.

The company will share more details about the new chip and architecture at the upcoming Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona, Feb. 14 to 17.

Qualcomm officials said that 150 devices with Snapdragon chips are under development. Some notable products using Snapdragon include HTC's upcoming Thunderbolt smartphone and the recently launched Windows Phone 7 smartphones from Dell, Samsung and LG.

The upcoming Snapdragon MSM8660 dual-core chip is also part of the design for 60 devices including tablets and smartphones. Products based on MSM8660 will "ramp" by the end of this quarter, Mollenkopf said.

Qualcomm competes with Texas Instruments and Nvidia, which have also announced dual-core chips for smartphones and tablets. But Nvidia has an early jump over competitors with its Tegra 2 chip, which is being used in tablets from companies including Motorola and Asustek Computer.

While Nvidia has an early start, Qualcomm's integration of an LTE modem in the MSM8960 chip could be key in attracting new customers, Mollenkopf said.

In theory having an integrated LTE modem is good, as it's cheaper to offer everything on a single chip, said Jack Gold, principal analyst at J. Gold Associates.

Qualcomm owns chipset and modem businesses, so it can pull together resources to offer highly integrated chips at lower prices than Nvidia, which may have to purchase modems from third parties.

But Nvidia has had success with Tegra 2 because of its high-quality graphics processor and CPU, Gold said. Qualcomm will have to continue improving the graphics and applications performance on Snapdragon.

"Having a good modem is a good strategy, but it's not enough," Gold said. "Two pieces of junk put together doesn't make something golden."

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags processorsqualcommComponents

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Agam Shah

IDG News Service
Show Comments


James Cook University - Master of Data Science Online Course

Learn more >




Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?