Qualcomm overhauls snapdragon internals for tablet play

Qualcomm, the US-based chip designer and manufacturer, said it will revamp its entire Snapdragon chip architecture by the end of the year with a view to addressing the fast-growing tablet market.

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processor, the company’s primary all-in-one chip, is one of the most popular chips for making smartphones and tablets at present, but is less powerful than typical computer chips.

Dr Sandep Sibal, country manager for Qualcomm India said the firm felt the need for a complete revamp of its three-year-old platform considering the new opportunities thrown up by tablet PCs — a category that did not exist when the chip was originally thought of.

“We will be launching them by end of 2011, and phones and tablets based it will be available next year,” Sibal said at a press conference in the capital.

The chips, first unveiled at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona earlier this month, could be 2-4 times as powerful as its current chips. The new architecture will be called Krait, named after a poisonous snake and will replace the ageing Scorpion architecture.

Under the Scorpion architecture, Snapdragon chips have already found favor on many phones and tablets and have achieved a maxiumum clock-speed of 1.5 GigaHertz (billion cycles per second). The current Snapdragon chips rival the processing power of typical netbook PC processors, but have only a fraction of the power of mainstream notebooks.

Sibal, however, could not give any estimate of how the Krait-based chips due out at the end of 2011 will stack up against a mainstream laptop chip. However, going by the increased clock-speed of 2.5 GHz and claims of 2-4 times the power of existing chips, they are likely to be comparable to entry-level laptop chips.

Sibal, however, said laptops are not the primary target of the new line-up, even though laptops could benefit from the chips as they are expected to consume only 10-30% of the power than laptop chips consume.

The new chips will have an option for built-in 3G and 4G technologies and will support dual-channel recording and playback of video for 3D effect. Intel’s 2011 chips are also expected to bring the capability to mainstream laptops and desktops.