Qualcomm announces a few radios, DSL, and Wear 1100

Computex 2016: No big bangs but a lot of advances

Qualcomm Snapdragon logoQualcomm had four new releases at Computex ranging from watches to DSL not to mention radios. Nothing here will change the world but SemiAccurate thinks all are useful advances on what exists.

The headliner for this new quartet is the Snapdragon Wear 1100 platform which slots in below the current Snapdragon Wear 2100. As you would expect from something 1000 Wears less than the 2100, this new sub-brand is aimed at a different market. The 2100 powers most of the premium smartwatches out there, most of which incorporate a decent sized high-ish rez color screen. Currently the bottom of this line is defined by an ARM A7 core but this isn’t’ a hard rule, just what is out there at the moment.

The new Wear 1100 changes the intended market more than any defining technical feature, remember Wear is a brand, not a silicon line per se. Because of market expectations and screens, 2100 is a general purpose compute platform where Wear 1100 is aimed at more dedicated single/few function devices. Think simple UIs and displays showing time or heart rate, not videos and high rez animations. Instead of Android or Android Wear, 1100 will probably run embedded Linux or an RTOS.

Don’t take this as us saying the platform isn’t capable, just that it is aimed at devices which last much longer on a charge and don’t try to do everything badly, just do a few things well. We won’t get caught up in a side topic about the sad, sad state of modern wearables, but lets just say we prefer things that do their purported job well rather than everything badly. In that regard we think the Wear 1100 line will be much more useful to consumers than the ‘more capable’ device. For now.

Moving on to the exciting world of IoT radios we have the QCA401x line of small embedded controllers with big radios added on. At Computex this line had a new member, the QCA4012 which pairs a 130MHz Xtensa CPU with a 1×1 802.11n radio on both 2.4 and 5GHz bands. If this doesn’t sound like much to you, the embedded world is not for you, skip on to the next section. For those who get the market, the QCA4012 actually brings a lot to the table.

It has 1.5MB of RAM, TCP/IP and crypto acceleration hardware, one time programmable memory, rollback protection, secure updates, and just about everything else you need to do the job right. There are the usual interfaces but the 42 GPIOs seem generous, plus PWMs, ADCs, and SPI/SDIO pins. All of the radios obviously support the low power standards and there are even industrial temp versions. And no dear readers, this won’t play Crysis.

This may sound a bit underwhelming to those used to 500+mm^2 300W GPUs but the magic of the QCA4012 isn’t in the hardware specifically, it is in the certifications. This part comes pre-certified for Apple Homekit, Google Weave, and Alljoyn, essentially every market certification that matters. Why is this important? If you need to put out a smart lint sensor for under-bed applications, getting it certified on all the major platforms can be a bit of a pain.

No make that an expensive, time-consuming, trouble-prone nightmare, especially if you are a startup just wanting to make the world’s best cloud connected under-bed lint sensor. With pre-certified parts like this that job is done. Better yet you can put out one SKU that should work with everything that matters, Qualcomm wanted something that just works out of the box. Do you want to spend your startup’s time and money arguing with Apple certification drones or adding value, this is what Qualcomm is asking.

If you skipped ahead to this part because you don’t really care about embedded silicon, jokes on you, this part is pretty much embedded silicon too. Skip ahead to the next part unless you want to know about tri-radio platforms for home gateways and the like. This would of course be the new IPQ40x9 SoC paired with either the QCA9886 or the QCA9984 radios. While it should be blatantly obvious to our readers what the functionality is based on the names, we will go over it again for those not up to speed on whatever class of parts this can be grouped into.

The idea for both is to have a 5GHz 802.11ac radio for input and another one for output, plus a 2.4GHz link for those on older devices. The QCA9886 is limited to two streams while the QCA9984 supports four, but either should be more than enough for a modern home. Both support Qualcomm’s SON (Self-Organizing Network) for simplified end-user setup making this an attractive part for carries and telcos to put into gateways. This one won’t play Crysis either but since there are ports of Doom to text output, don’t give up all hope.

So that brings us to the last bit, DSL or specifically GigaDSL which is one superlative up on VDSL. There are two parts in the family, the QCO5700 for multiple dwelling units and the QCM5720 for the customer side. Having both ends of a new standard come out at once is much more useful than one end and luckily Qualcomm delivered both. As the names suggest this box seems oriented at dense housing and offices, fiber in and up to 1Gbps out over 100M copper. Since it is compatible with existing phone lines, (remember them?) deployment should be a lot easier than replacing drywall across a few dozen units.S|A

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Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and SemiAccurate.com. SemiAccurate.com is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of SemiAccurate.com, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also a council member with Gerson Lehman Group. FullyAccurate