Qualcomm makes a statement with 64-bit, octa-core chip

BARCELONA, Spain--Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) made sure the industry knows it is still a force to contend with as it unveiled the Snapdragon 615, which it dubbed the world's first 64-bit, octa-core chip with integrated five-mode global LTE. 

Unveiled by the Qualcomm Technologies (QTI) subsidiary here at the Mobile World Congress trade show, the chip is designed for high-end LTE-enabled smaprthones and tables. The Snapdragon 615, as well as the new quad-core Snapdragon 610, are designed to work with QTI's RF360 front end solution, which will enable device manufacturers to ship a single five-mode global LTE SKU across all major spectrum bands and air interface modes worldwide. The chips also integrate HSPA+ (up to 42 Mbps), CDMA and TD-SCDMA for the China market.

At an MWC press event, Murthy Renduchintala, executive vice president of QTI and co-president of Qualcomm CDMA Technologies, told reporters the hallmark of QTI's Snapdragon story is that the device line will have a role in every tier of smartphones regardless of user price point and will have uncompromised quality of service for each level of device.

A similar message is being voiced by up-and-coming chip competitor MediaTek, which said during its MWC press event that it wanted to "democratize" the market to create a new all-inclusive world of connected devices that everyone, everywhere can exploit.

Also at MWC, QTI touted its Gobi 9x35 modem, which is the mobile industry's first commercially announced cellular modem manufactured on the 20 nanometer process. The vendor showed the device's capabilities by conducting live demos, over Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC)  infrastructure, of LTE Advanced Category 6 connectivity using 20 MHz+20 MHz carrier aggregation to generate download speeds up to 300 Mbps.

The Gobi 9x30 platform is also now part of Snapdragon Automotive Solutions, enabling broadband vehicle connectivity for enhanced navigation, Wi-Fi hotspot, infotainment content and telematics services. In addition to 3G and LTE connectivity, the platform is pre-integrated with QCA6574, a dual-stream 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1 chipset designed to simultaneously support in-car Wi-Fi hotspot functions and Bluetooth profiles. The modem also supports broad multi-region coverage in a single SKU with the Qualcomm RF360 front end.

The Gobi 9x30 will be paired with the Snapdragon 602A in vehicles, Renduchintala noted.

He said QTI's key message to the industry regarding its modem solutions is that "the whole is much greater than the sum of the parts."  He said the Gobi modem should be considered a total system solution that "will take LTE beyond the phone space to a number of connected opportunities."

Renduchintala also discussed LTE Broadcast, which Qualcomm is supporting with its Snapdragon 800 chip. LTE Broadcast was launched during January in South Korea by KT and will be launched later this year by Verizon and Telstra, he said.

Up to eight operators are in trials right now in the EMEA, Asia Pacific and North America regions, Renduchintala said.

For more:
- see this Qualcomm release, this release, this release and this release
- see this PCWorld article

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Article updated Feb. 24, 2014, to specify that the Snapdragon 615 is an octa-core chip.