|This is part of a long (but interesting) article on the battle between Intel and ARM. Q is aligned with ARM, but the fact that they have customised their design so completely puts them in an odd position. They have not yet signed up for ARM's latest A9 core.|
Qualcomm and ARM:
Qualcomm, despite its current travails, will be one of the most significant obstacles in Intel’s path in the handset world, and therefore an important member of the ARM group, even if an awkward one.
Qualcomm is one of the only companies to have a full architectural license from ARM – though Intel also had one via Digital – and this enabled it to leap ahead in terms of modifying the design for mobility when it moved into this field in 2005 with the release of its Scorpion microprocessor, and subsequently with its Snapdragon architecture. It opened a chip design facility in 2003 and acquired the rights to modify the ARM architecture in order to optimize an application processor for a smartphone chipset, which emerged as Snapdragon.
The 65nm Scorpion ARMv7 core delivers 2,100 DMips peak, while consuming under half a watt of power. This showed Qualcomm quadrupling the power/performance of its products based on unmodified ARM cores. Key enhancements have focused on multimedia engines to accelerate processing of media applications while keeping power consumption low.
Scorpion is part of Snapdragon, which also includes a 128-bit SIMD (single instruction, multiple data) processor and a 600MHz DSP to accelerate multimedia applications. On the RF chip, Snapdragon will incorporate options for EV-DO, W-CDMA, HSDPA and HSDUPA, broadcast television and multimedia, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
This was unveiled a year ago and represented one of Qualcomm’s first moves to extend its reach beyond pure handsets into other consumer electronics and home media devices, and also a key challenge to Intel in the PC/smartphone crossover space.
“Qualcomm is driving a shift that is taking place in portable electronics by adding ubiquitous connectivity with zero compromise for the user experience to an extended range of devices,” said COO Sanjay Jha. Samsung was the first public customer, and is likely to use Snapdragon in its ultra-mobile PC, scheduled for early 2008.