Though not as exciting as the launch of a new chip or the deployment of a new wireless technology, Qualcomm today takes a big step towards revamping its image and setting the direction for its flagship Snapdragon product line going forward.
The Snapdragon 835 SoC product will now be referred to as the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Mobile Platform, removing the moniker of “processor” from the name. All Snapdragon 800-, 600- and 400- chips will follow the same pattern, dropping the term processor and instead adding “mobile platform.”
The reason behind this move is simple and clearly addresses the direction that the industry has been moving for some time. When most hear the term “Snapdragon processor” they immediately assume we are referring to the CPU itself, the ARM-based portion of the system that has been the primary performance point for mobile devices for years. But Qualcomm has touted the benefits of its heterogeneous compute architecture, where CPU, GPU, DSP, ISP and other blocks combine to offer a better solution and experience than the sum of parts. Calling what Qualcomm builds only a “processor” has been slowing the acknowledgement of how complex a system they build for each and every platform launch.
The argument for platform over processor gets stronger when you recognize other feature integrations of the Snapdragon Platform. Categories like wireless connectivity showcase Qualcomm’s biggest strengths in modem and RF development. Through acquisition and internal work, the company’s collection of audio tech continues to impress. Security importance is accelerating and integrated features like biometric readers, application vulnerability detection, and device attestation build a platform that consumers and enterprise can trust with person data. Video and display processors provide smooth and power efficient avenues for content and high quality viewing experiences. Wi-Fi, GPS, camera sensor and processing, and the complex software and development platforms; what Qualcomm builds with Snapdragon is truly a platform.
Qualcomm’s move to rebrand its product stack to a platform isn’t simply to help the market make sense of things. Proving to consumers and to OEM customers that the Snapdragon technology as a platform is more valuable when combined into one coherent system should result in better adoption of features. Qualcomm has struggled getting partners to integrate many portions of the Snapdragon platform instead including only the essentials – processor/SoC. By branding Snapdragon as the underlying platform of mobile devices, Qualcomm hopes to help partners recognize and appreciate the entire strategy.
As a secondary part of this announcement, Qualcomm will be removing the Snapdragon name from the 200-series of SoC. Instead, those will be referred to as the Qualcomm 200 Mobile Platform. Snapdragon name will be targeting only products and systems that Qualcomm decides are “high performance.”
An updated naming scheme for Snapdragon has no impact on the technology it includes, but the Qualcomm Snapdragon Mobile Platform should move forward the impact and adoption of the entire ecosystem the company has been developing for mobile platforms.
Below is the full blog post from Don McGuire, Qualcomm’s VP of Product Marketing, on the announcement.
Moving beyond processors to platforms
Over the coming months, Qualcomm Technologies will roll out changes and updates to our product brand positioning to best articulate the value of our technology and products for our customers and their end users. One of the first updates is how we apply the Qualcomm Snapdragon brand.
For decades, the semiconductor industry has used the term “processor” to mean the component that powers the most advanced devices. It’s a word that Qualcomm Technologies has embraced over the years with our Snapdragon brand, or as we say — our Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. But the word is an inadequate representation of what the technology actually is, and the solutions that tens of thousands of Qualcomm Technologies innovators have worked on.
In truth, Snapdragon is more than a single component, a piece of silicon, or what many would misinterpret as the CPU; it’s an anthology of technology, comprising hardware, software, and services that are not fully captured in a word like “processor.” That is why Qualcomm Technologies is refining our terminology by referring to Snapdragon as a “platform” instead of a processor.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon Mobile Platform takes our offerings beyond a single chip. While the single processor form factor is truly a system-on-a-chip (SoC), housing custom technology like an integrated modem, CPU, GPU, and DSP, there is a lot more going on outside of the chip that is designed to ultimately support a wide variety of devices. Technologies from the RF Front End — without which your mobile device wouldn’t be able to acquire a signal, make a phone call, or surf the web — to Qualcomm Quick Charge, the Qualcomm Aqstic audio DAC, Wi-Fi (802.11ac and 11ad), touch controllers, and finger print technology, are all engineered to work together with the SoC to deliver a superior and smooth user experience.
With the Snapdragon mobile platform we can now articulate the value that we provide to a device manufacturer — from developing algorithms for great pictures and videos, to making sure that the battery is long lasting. More importantly, the word “platform” will be used to explain the combined key user experiences — camera, connectivity, battery life, security, immersion — that these essential technologies are designed to deliver. And these experiences are not just for smartphones anymore, but are applicable across verticals such as automotive, IoT, and mobile PCs.
Moving forward, only premium mobile platforms will retain the Snapdragon brand, while processors in the 200 tier will fall under the new Qualcomm Mobile name. Our belief is that bringing the 200-level mobile platforms under the new Qualcomm Mobile brand will help differentiate entry-level and high-volume solutions from our flagship and high-end Snapdragon premium mobile experience platforms. Our goal is to create better clarity and expectations for our customers.
The shift isn’t seismic, but we believe it is a step in the right direction and that it will help us better demonstrate the overall value of a chip, beyond “speeds and feeds.” It better acknowledges those who have done extensive work on the entire platform, and key acquisitions that Qualcomm Technologies has made to bolster its position in the semiconductor industry. We believe it will also help our customers better demonstrate the overall value that Qualcomm Mobile and Qualcomm Snapdragon technologies bring to their products. As we expand our presence outside of mobile, we want our nomenclature to reflect all the places we’re making a difference, from mobile PCs and servers, to automotive, IP cameras, drones, VR/AR headsets, and beyond.