Qualcomm announcements continue at a rapid pace. The company believes its one technology roadmap will expand its total available market seven-fold – from a $100 billion TAM to a $700 billion TAM. There has been a stream of announcements this year at CES, MWC, and beyond as the company continues to hammer its theme of a company that is transitioning beyond smartphones. Most of the key announcements were outside of the smartphone space, but there were a couple large announcements which remained at the heart of the smartphone space.
Here are the key recent announcements:
- Snapdragon X70 5G modem-RF system: The updated modem has some firsts. It is built on 4nm process. It is the first modem to support 10 Gigabit 5G speeds. This is achieved by supporting 4x carrier aggregation within Sub6 channels. It will also support carrier aggregation on the uplink to speeds up to 3GB/second.
The X70 supports every global 5G band. It is also the first to have an integrated AI processor in the baseband which will optimize the Sub6 or mmWave link. The AI processor will help with dynamic antenna tuning, AI based tower optimization, network selector, and monitoring the channel state. At its most basic, the AI can project the best route for data transfer—especially important for mmWave which can see signal degradation with walls, leaves, or other objects.
There are currently many flagship smartphones launching with the with 8 Gen 1 application processor such as the Magic 4 HONOR, Samsung Galaxy S22 family, and others from Oppo, Motorola, Xiaomi, HONOR, and OnePlus. Virtually all of these devices also include a Qualcomm modem, which bodes well for X70 adoption.
- Expanding the Snapdragon compute enterprise ecosystem: There are now more than 225 enterprise companies, more than 100 ISVs, and over 15 channel partners supporting Snapdragon compute platform. The always-on-always-connected PC has seen disappointing sales to date. However, price points and performance continue to expand making the value proposition stronger—especially valuable with the addition of 5G.
At MWC, Lenovo announced the ThinkPad X13s, which is powered by the 8xc Gen 3 compute platform. Key selling points include: Thin, fanless, and under 1KG in weight. It supports over 28 hours of battery life. Connectivity includes 5G sub6, mmWave, and WiFi 6E. The speakers support intelligent noise suppression. Great hardware like this is needed to grow the ecosystem.
- Qualcomm is driving the evolution to open, virtualized 5G RAN. The company recently announced partnerships with Hewlett Packard offering next-gen 5G virtual DU solution. Qualcomm’s differentiation is lower power requirements, which the company explains is 60% lower for operators.
The company has also partnered with Mavenir and Rakuten supplying next-gen DUs and RUs with massive MIMO for open RAN 5G deployments. It is not exactly a new market for Qualcomm as it has in its roots network infrastructure as well as small cell expertise.
- Qualcomm also has solutions within 5G private networks. It announced a collaboration with Microsoft which offers end-to-end and pre-integrated 5G private network solutions for vertical-specific use cases. Qualcomm will offer a RAN automation platform and optimize the radio of the private network.
In an era which companies can mix and match network vendors, Qualcomm can help facilitate by taking validated and tested solutions directly to the customer. It will ease the work on partners and also decrease time-to-market.
- Qualcomm is a leading FWA (fixed wireless access) supplier. Fixed wireless access has been the single most important 5G application, to date, giving incremental revenues to network operators. Qualcomm has a suite of offerings for self-installed CPEs including standalone 5G mmWave support. Qualcomm has a lot of know-how with multiple generations of mmWave devices. Besides mmWave CPEs with self-install, there are options with a Sub6 anchor for dual connectivity.
Qualcomm has over 125 design wins announced or in development with 40 OEM partners. The latest partner announced is Fastweb in Italy.
- Qualcomm has a suite of solutions within its branded Snapdragon Sound platform. Many interesting specs – maybe the most interesting are its 3rd generation adaptive noise cancellation, digital assistant support with a wake word or button press activation, and its ultra-low power supporting enhanced machine learning. Snapdragon Sound also supports high resolution 24-bit 96kHz audio.
- Snapdragon Connect platform supports the latest technologies within 5G, WiFi and Bluetooth. Its RF front-end solution supports ultraBAW and ultraSAW filter technology. This will help Qualcomm continue to offer a full solution suite to OEMs. All smartphone OEMs utilizing the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 application processor have incorporated Qualcomm’s RF front-end design.
Qualcomm has over 500 design wins within WiFi 6 and WiFi 6E. It recently announced FastConnect 7800, its first WiFi 7 system. Peak speeds are expected to support 5.8Gbps. The key new specs will be its improved low latency of two milliseconds and high-band multi-link support. Sampling begins during the second half 2022.
- Automotive announcements have accelerated. Qualcomm automotive revenues have eclipsed $250 million per quarter. It has led the digital cockpit and infotainment space partnering recently with Alps Alpine. These solutions include safety, comfort and entertainment solutions like e-mirrors, next-gen input/output devices integrated into door trims, ceiling display(s) and sound zones that project sound individually to each car occupant. The newer and larger story is Qualcomm’s entrance into ADAS (advanced driver assistance systems). Qualcomm made a large acquisition of Arriver (which is wholly owned by Veoneer). This acquisition recently closed. It will partner to deploy deep-learning algorithms for vision perception with a full suite of full-vision functions, among other innovations, combining Arriver’s next-gen ‘Vision Perception’ software with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Ride Vision System. During CES, Renault announced it had chosen Qualcomm for the entire suite. GM and BMW are also in the ADAS pipeline. Qualcomm dropped a stat of the potential of up to $30 of 5G RF content revenues per vehicle.
At MWC, Qualcomm unveiled a new Snapdragon Digital Chassis Connected Car Technologies to accelerate and form the future of the automotive space. Most recently, BMW Group and Arriver formed a long-term joint development of automated driving software solutions within NCAP, level 2 and level 3 autonomous driving. We are expecting more automotive OEM announcements during the spring.
- More XR announcements with key Chinese partners. The most recent announcement is a partnership with ByteDance. Qualcomm announced its partnership with ByteDance (a TikTok parent company). The partnership’s goal will be to develop XR technologies and use cases, develop hardware equipment, software platforms, and developer tools. ByteDance has made its presence stronger in the XR field by acquiring Pico, a Chinese VR headset manufacturer last year. After this partnership, Pico XR products will be powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon platform. This will expand Qualcomm’s business in computing and metaverse-related products.
Augmented reality glasses will be a large opportunity for the smartphone industry. Qualcomm has taken this step to be a pioneer in the XR field. The company already had one major partner in Meta, which works with on the Oculus. With an XR platform, Qualcomm will be looking to partner with numerous new companies.
- Qualcomm invests $100 million in the Snapdragon Metaverse Fund. Qualcomm has established a $100 million fund that will be used to back developers and companies building XR experiences as well as associated AR and AI technologies. As a chipmaker, Qualcomm will benefit if any end device uses it chips and helping the ecosystem grow is an aggressive move by Qualcomm.
- Qualcomm has announced industrial IoT and enterprise / retail solutions. Qualcomm has expanded it IoT portfolio with advances within smart grid and smart meters. The solutions are more reliable and easier to maintain with some ‘self-healing’ flexibility. Newest collaboration partners include Gridspertise and Rexroth. Rexroth, a Bosch company, collaboration focus’ on new mission-critical use cases enabled by 3GPP Release 16. Release 16 radio enhancements include access to unlicensed spectrum, new power savings, increased GPS precision for URLLC, carrier aggregation enhancements, and better NB-IoT compatibility. Within retail, Qualcomm has solutions which will enable digital payments, signage, and other retail enhancements.
- Qualcomm has partnered with T-Mobile supplying the US’ #2 carrier with its Snapdragon Spaces XR development platform. The goal of this partnership is to drive new 5G use cases. The development platform will help developers with positional tracking, image recognition and tracking, plane detection, spatial mapping and meshing, and scene understanding (floors, walls, ceilings and other physical space). Developers focusing on areas such as metaverse, cloud gaming, 8k streaming, edge cloud and crowded network optimization applications will find it extremely useful. It is important to have Qualcomm involved early to assist application developers.
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