CES 2014 Las Vegas – New Qualcomm president and, in March, CEO, Steve Mollenkopf laid out an ambitious plan to expand Qualcomm’s flagship Snapdragon-brand smartphone chip to mobile-like capabilities for the new generation of smart A/V and smart cars.
“If you look at the things driving growth, people are excited about mobile coming to consumer electronics,” explained Mollenkopf, “things like wearables, the home and the car embracing the technology of the smartphone. All the innovation in mobile is bleeding into other industries and applications. People want to do on their smartphones what they never did on their PCs before.” Mollenkopf ascended to top of Qualcomm three weeks ago, with company co-founder Dr. Paul Jacobs moving to chairman of the board.
In a wide-ranging Q&A session, Mollenkopf ticked off Qualcomm’s latest products, including: the Snapdragon 802 chip, a system-on-a-chip (SoC) for smart Ultra HD TVs; the Snapdragon 602A, an integrated auto communications and infotainment chipset; and the AllPlay smart media platform to help consumers, app developers and audio hardware makers enhance access to wireless whole-home content.
The company also announced it would be demonstrating smart gateway Qualcomm Internet Processor (IPQ) Smarthome platform applications, in its booth in the Central Hall. According to the company, IPQ acts as a digital conduit to improve a consumer’s connected experiences at home through partnerships with carriers and third-party app developers.
The Snapdragon 802, which the company claimed is the first fully SoC to run smart and Ultra HD TVs, set-top boxes and digital media adapters. The 802, which integrates a quad-core Krait 1.8 GHz CPU, is designed to enable seamless decoding of 4K content, richer user interfaces and console-quality gaming, as well as multi-use concurrent uses, such as playing an online game while video conferencing, browsing the web while streaming a movie or simultaneously playing back up to four HD videos on the same TV. Qualcomm expects the 802 to appear in smart TVs at the end of this year.
The low-power Snapdragon 602A applications processor is designed to provide integrated connectivity options for connected infotainment systems such as apps, internal video and camera processing, 3D navigation, facial recognition, voice recognition, audio processing, hands-free telephony, varying codec decoding, gesture recognition and rear-seat 3D gaming, with multiple OS smartphone/tablet compatibility. Like the 802, the 602A is centered around a quad-core Krait CPU and integrates 3G/4G LTE, dual-band 802.11ac and Bluetooth LE 4.0 modules to compatibility with Miracast, MirrorLink 1.2 and AllJoyn. The company hopes to roll out the chip later this year; no potential auto company partnerships were announced.
Mollenkopf announced commercial availability of AllPlay, Qualcomm’s Connected Experience’s whole-home wireless audio solution. According to Mollenkopf, Altec Lansing, Lenco, Medion, Musaic and Panasonic are demonstrating AllPlay-powered speakers and audio adapters at CES, while doubleTwist with Magic Radio, iHeartRadio, Rhapsody/Napster and SomaFM will demonstrate AllPlay-powered streaming. Aupeo, Grooveshark, and TuneIn also plan to support the platform. All have committed to the commercial release of AllPlay-powered apps and hardware products this year.
The AllPlay smart audio module is designed to make it easier to develop and offer consumers seamless streaming of high-quality local and cloud-based content, especially for multi-room/multi-stream scenarios. Built on Qualcomm’s open-source AllJoyn framework, AllPlay hopes to allay brand, platform and codec interoperability and wireless security concerns.
AllPlay supports MP3, AAC, AAC+, FLAC, WAV, ALAC and PCM formats, and supports high-resolution 192khz/24-bit output. Its software supports a Party Mode playback up to 10 zones or speakers, multi-source to multi-sink streaming, shared/social play lists, cross-platform Wi-Fi network configuration as well as Direct Mode streaming, over-the-air firmware updates, and DLNA support. There was, however, no specific mention of support for Apple’s AirPlay wireless technology, although compatibility for both iOS and Android are listed among the platforms supported.