Ahead of Mobile World Congress, Qualcomm today unveiled a new virtual reality (VR) reference platform based on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Mobile Platform, enhancements to the Qualcomm TrueWireless Stereo technology and an Artificial Intelligence (AI) Engine on Snapdragon mobile platforms.
New Snapdragon 845 Mobile VR Reference Design
The Snapdragon 845 Mobile Platform features a variety of new architectures and subsystems. It is build on the Snapdragon 835 Mobile VR Platform that powered VR devices at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show. Qualcomm's relationship with GoerTek also allows for global manufacturers to quickly build commercial designs based on the Snapdragon 845 Mobile VR Platform.
The Snapdragon 845 Mobile Platform uses the latest Qualcomm Adreno 630 visual processing subsystem which offers integrated graphics, video and display processing technologies. This translates to 30 percent faster graphics performance, 30 percent better power efficiency, and more than twice as much display throughput compared to the Snapdragon 835 Mobile Platform. Another new XR technology innovation is Adreno Foveation, which combines graphics rendering with eye tracking to understand where the user is looking. It is engineered to direct the highest graphics resources to where the user is physically looking.
Together, 6DoF and SLAM deliver Roomscale -- the ability to track the body and location within a room so you can freely walk around your XR environment without cables or separate room sensors. Much of this is processed on the new dedicated Qualcomm Hexagon Digital Signal Processor (DSP) and Adreno Graphics Processing Unit within the Snapdragon 845. Qualcomm Technologies' reference designs have supported some of the first wave of standalone VR devices from Google Daydream, Oculus and Vive.
Qualcomm Artificial Intelligence Engine Powers AI Capabilities of Snapdragon Mobile Platform
Qualcomm also today introduced its Qualcomm Artificial Intelligence (AI) Engine, which is comprised of several hardware and software components to accelerate on-device AI-enabled user experiences on select Qualcomm Snapdragon mobile platforms. The AI Engine will be supported on Snapdragon 845, 835, 820 and 660 mobile platforms, with on-device AI processing found in the Snapdragon 845.
Supported within the AI Engine, Snapdragon core hardware architectures - Qualcomm Hexagon Vector Processor, Qualcomm Adreno GPU and Qualcomm Kryo CPU - are engineered to run AI applications efficiently on-device.
Key software-centric components of Qualcomm AI Engine, include:
- Snapdragon Neural Processing Engine (NPE) software framework is designed to make it easy for developers to choose the optimal Snapdragon core - Hexagon Vector Processor, Adreno GPU and Kryo CPU - and accelerate their AI user experiences on device. The Snapdragon NPE supports the Tensorflow, Caffe and Caffe2 frameworks, in addition to the Open Neural Network Exchange (ONNX) interchange format.
- Support for the Android Neural Networks API, first released in Google's Android Oreo, gives developers access to Snapdragon platforms directly through the Android operating system. Support for Android NN will appear first in Snapdragon 845.
- Hexagon Neural Network (NN) library allows developers to run AI algorithms directly on the Hexagon Vector Processor. This provides optimized implementation for the fundamental machine learning blocks and accelerates AI operations such as convolution, pooling and activations.
Many smartphone manufacturers have taken advantage of AI Engine components on Snapdragon mobile platforms to accelerate AI applications on their devices. These include Xiaomi, OnePlus, vivo, OPPO, Motorola, ASUS, ZTE, Nubia, Smartisan and Blackshark, among some of which are planning to optimize AI applications using the AI Engine on future flagship smartphones using Snapdragon.
Next Generation Qualcomm TrueWireless Stereo Technology
Qualcomm has made enhancements to its Qualcomm TrueWireless Stereo technology.
The next-generation Qualcomm TrueWireless technology is supported on Qualcomm's QCC5100 series Bluetooth audio System-on-Chip (SoC), which is designed to help reduce power consumption by up to 65 percent for voice call and music streaming compared to Qualcomm's previous generation device. This integrated single-chip solution is designed to offer manufacturers an efficient way of controlling and managing the wireless connection to the earbuds and is available in an ultra-small form factor wafer-level 4mm x 4mm CSP package along with a suite of software (Audio Development Kit) to support the development of new generation wireless earbuds and hearables.
Running on QCC5100 SoCs, the updated Qualcomm TrueWireless Stereo technology is designed to offer consumers an improved user and listening experience regardless of smartphone platform and includes an easier pairing experience with no need to pair individual earbuds. The updates to the technology also engineered to include the ability to autonomously role switch each earbud between primary and secondary roles in order to balance power consumption more evenly between the buds for longer playback time.
Qualcomm TrueWireless Stereo Plus is an additional mode of the technology designed to eliminate the need for cross-head Bluetooth transmission by simultaneously connecting the mobile device to both earbuds. In this new operating mode only the relevant audio content is engineered to relay to each bud helping to improve robustness and more evenly balance power consumption. When paired with a QCC5100 series based device and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Mobile Platform Qualcomm TrueWireless Stereo Plus can help to reduce power consumption by up to an additional 10 percent, typically helping to deliver an extra hour of listening time before recharge is needed. Additionally, Qualcomm TrueWireless Stereo Plus supports an even simpler pairing experience when connecting earbuds to the mobile device and helps to reduce latency because both buds are connected directly to the smartphone.
Designs based on the QCC5100 Series using the enhanced Qualcomm TrueWireless Stereo are expected to be available in the second half of 2018.
Stream Music to Numerous Bluetooth Headphones and Speakers Simultaneously
Qualcomm is bringing its Broadcast Audio technology on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Mobile Platform. Qualcomm Broadcast Audio is designed to allow one Bluetooth source to stream audio to numerous headsets or speakers with near perfect synchronization. The technology is designed to support Bluetooth to be used for one-to-many sound broadcasting - helping to extend the capabilities of traditional Bluetooth. Qualcomm Broadcast Audio supports ad-hoc multi-speaker parties, sharing headphones and listening to the same music from a single smartphone, or for group audio tours.
Features of Qualcomm Broadcast Audio Include:
- Simpler set-up and pairing of devices and device management helping users to more easily manage which devices can join
- Broadcast to numerous devices within Bluetooth range
- Automatic retransmission and packet-loss concealment
- Encrypted audio stream
In addition to the Snapdragon 845 Mobile Platform, Qualcomm Broadcast Audio is also available on a range of Qualcomm Bluetooth Audio System-on-Chips (SoCs) including CSR8670, CSR8675, CSRA68100 and the recently announced QCC5100 low power Bluetooth audio SoC Series for wireless earbuds and hearables.
Qualcom is offering software updates to already developing products based on Qualcomm Bluetooth Audio SoCs, so Qualcomm Broadcast Audio can be added as a feature even post-sale on many products.