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Dual-core Snapdragon offers 1080p video encoding

Jun 1, 2010 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 4 views

Qualcomm announced it is sampling dual-core versions of its Snapdragon chipset, targeting high-end smartphones. The Mobile Station Modem (MSM) chipsets each integrate dual 1.2GHz Snapdragon cores and offer 1080p video encode/decode plus Open GL ES 2.0, with the MSM8260 targeting HSPA+ networks and the MSM8660 supporting HSPA+/CDMA2000 1xEV-DO Rev. B, says the company.

The MSM8260 for HSPA+ and the MSM8660 for multi-mode HSPA+/CDMA2000 1xEV-DO Rev. B are each equipped with two enhanced CPU cores running at up to 1.2GHz. The chipset offers a "powerful" GPU (graphics processing unit) with 3D/2D acceleration engines for Open GL ES 2.0 and Open VG 1.1 acceleration, says the company.

Both chipsets are also touted for 1080p video encode and decode, a dedicated low power audio engine, and integrated low power GPS. Support for 24-bit WXGA 1280 x 800 resolution displays is also provided, says Qualcomm.

No further details were publicly supplied, which is fairly typical of the San Diego-based wireless technology firm's marketing approach. In addition, operating support was not listed, but previous Snapdragon chipsets have supported Linux, Android, and Windows Mobile. 

The MSM8x60 chipsets represent the third generation of the Snapdragon, which is dominating the world of high-end Android smartphones in models like the HTC Droid Incredible (pictured), while making slower progress in tablets and smartbook devices. The original 1GHz QSD8250/8650 Snapdragon chipsets debuted in Nov. 2007, featuring a Scorpion core that — like the ARM Cortex-A8 — is based on the ARMv7 instruction set and offers similar superscalar technology. In fact, many observers refer to it flatly as a member of the Cortex-A8 family.

The QSD8x50 was followed last June by a 1.3GHz QSD8650A, which added 2D/3D graphics accelerators, and was touted for its up to 30 percent lower power consumption. Last November, Qualcomm announced a 1GHz, mid-range MSM7x30 variant of the Snapdragon design said to be capable of capable of playing 720p video.

Kissing cousin: Dual-core, 1.5GHz QSC8672

Qualcomm calls the MSM8x60 chipsets the first dual-core versions of the Snapdragon, although last year the company began sampling a somewhat similar QSD8672 that combined two 45nm-fabricated 1.5GHz Scorpion cores. The QSD8672 and MSM8x60 are both billed as representing the third generation of Snapdragon technology. It seems, however, that the QSD8672 has yet to ship in volume: Wikipedia claims the chipset won't ship in consumer products until the second half of this year.

Like the MSM8x60 chipsets, the QSC8672 offers 1080p video encode, says Qualcomm. The chipset is said to support even higher WSXGA (1440 x 900) display resolutions, compared to the MSM8x60's WXGA (1280 x 800). QSC8672 graphics performance, meanwhile, is touted for offering up to 80M triangles/sec and 500M+ 3D pixels/sec. No such claims have been made for the MSM8x60.

The Mobile Station Modem (MSM) designation appears to refer to a major design difference from the other Snapdragons. Whereas, the QSD and QSC chipsets combine the baseband processor and RF chip in a single package, the MSM chipsets move the RF chip out of the package.

Stated Steve Mollenkopf, EVP of Qualcomm and president of Qualcomm CDMA Technologies, "We are very excited by the innovation our customers are already showing as they begin designing products based on our dual-core MSM8260 and MSM8660 chipsets."


The MSM8260 and MSM8660 chipsets are sampling now, says Qualcomm. More information may eventually become available at the company's chipset page, here.

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