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12nm always on processor slashes wearable power

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

Qualcomm Technologies has launched a 12nm chipset for wearable designs using a hybrid always on architecture to reduce the power consumption and extend battery life.

The Snapdragon Wear 4100+ combines a System-on-Chip (SoC) with ARM’s A-class cores and Always On (AON) co-processor with the M-class cores, built on a 12nm with power management enhancements to reduce the energy usage.

The SoC combines the CPU, GPU, memory, cellular modem, and camera sub-systems in a 12nm low power process with dual dedicated DSPs for modem/location and sensors/audio. The 1.7GHz quad-core Coretex A53 processors, Adreno 504 graphics engine, 750MHz LPDDR3 memory and dual ISPs with support for up to 16 Mpixel cameras provide up to 85 percent higher performance than the previous generation.

The AON processor uses the Cortex-M0 for offloading a series of use cases including display, sensors, maps, and time. Qualcomm has improved the software interface between the two chips to manage the interactions between them to reduce the overall power consumption of a wearable design by 25 percent.

Low power optimizations include the 12nm low power process technology, dual DSPs for optimal workload partitioning, support for dynamic clock and voltage scaling, Qualcomm’s Sensor Assisted Positioning PDR Wearables 2.0, low power location tracking support and an enhanced Bluetooth 5.0 architecture.

The 4G LTE mode, also based on 12nm process technology, has been significantly improved with a dedicated DSP, low power features such as eDRX , platform-level power management and support for Cat 4/3/1 and single/dual antennas.

“We are delighted to be at the forefront of the fast-paced wearables segment,” said Pankaj Kedia, global business head, smart wearables segment at Qualcomm Technologies. “We have seen tremendous success with our innovative hybrid architecture, first introduced in the Snapdragon Wear 3100 platform, which brings the best of performance and battery life to wearables. Today, we take this unique approach to the next level with the announcement of the Snapdragon Wear 4100 platforms which are bringing richer, enhanced experiences to next generation connected smartwatches.”

The chipset will intially be used by Suunto, imooo and Mobvoi for smartwatches.

“We have seen sustained growth in the wearable space and expect the trend to continue with the industry growing to over $30 billion by 2023. Consumers are increasingly aware of the importance of personal health and well-being, which will drive accelerated growth in in the second half of 2020 and beyond,” said Leo Gebbie, Senior Analyst, Wearables and XR at CCS Insight.

The Snapdragon Wear 4100+ platform which includes the main SOC (SDM429w or SDA429w) and the AON Co-Processor (QCC1110), along with the companion chips including PMIC, RF for Modem/GPS and WiFi/BT, and RF Front End (RFFE) shown above. It supports both the Android Open Source Platform (AOSP) and the Wear OS by Google OS platform. Snapdragon Wear 4100+ and Snapdragon Wear 4100 (without the AON processor) are available and shipping now.

For more information see www.qualcomm.com/products/snapdragon-wear-4100-plus-platform 

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