Qualcomm's current top processor is the Snapdragon 810, which is only shipping in the LG G Flex 2 and set to appear in upcoming flagships like the HTC One M9. But at Mobile World Congress the chip manufacturer is already taking the wraps off of its next-gen design, the predictably-named Snapdragon 820. Details on the exact capabilities of the new chip are scarce, but Qualcomm says it should be ready to ship to mobile manufacturers sometime in the second half of this year.

The press release below doesn't delve into speed or raw capability, instead focusing on built-in functions like enhanced photos, wireless radio innovations, security features, and "always on" services. It does confirm that the Snapdragon 820 will use a 64-bit architecture (not surprising, since the 810 and lower-power chips like the 610 and 410 are also 64-bit). The codename for the new chipset is "Zeroth," and the architecture of the CPU itself is called "Kryo." Qualcomm will likely be seeking customers for the new chips behind closed doors at MWC.

In the last couple of months Qualcomm's position as the undisputed king of mobile processors has become more shaky. Samsung has elected to use its own Exynos processors in the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, going without a Snapdragon model for the first time, and the benchmarks show that those phones are considerably faster than their Qualcomm-based competition. (Note: benchmarks can be manipulated fairly easily.) There have also been rumors of overheating with the Snapdragon 810, and we've seen at least some evidence of thermal throttling in the G Flex 2.

Press Release

BARCELONA, Spain, March 2, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM) today announced that its subsidiary, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. (QTI), will preview a series of next-generation mobile experiences at MWC 2015 through the power of the Qualcomm® Zeroth™ platform, Qualcomm Technologies' first cognitive computing platform designed to enhance on-device user experience. The Zeroth platform will be optimized for premium mobile devices based on Qualcomm Technologies' next-generation premium tier System-on a-Chip (SoC), the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 820 processor. Designed on a leading edge FinFET process node, the Snapdragon 820processor will also introduce Qualcomm Technologies' custom 64-bit CPU architecture designed for premium mobile devices, the Qualcomm® Kryo™ CPU. The Snapdragon 820 processor is expected to begin sampling in the second half of 2015.

"The premium mobile experiences of the future will extend beyond traditional features and functionality and be defined by devices that have the ability to learn and adapt to the needs of the user, through fully harnessing the growing levels of compute, multimedia and connectivity in our mobile devices," said Cristiano Amon, executive vice president, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., and co-president, QCT. "At MWC 2015 we'll take the first steps towards realizing this vision with the Zeroth platform, and set the stage for a new level of intelligence and personalization for mobile devices. Zeroth intelligence will scale across a wide range of implementations from automobiles, wearables, smartphones and client computing and have a learned personalization that has the ability to transfer across devices and as a consumer upgrade to the next generation."

Qualcomm Zeroth Platform: Cognitive computing goes mobile

The Zeroth platform is composed of new hardware and software innovations that benefit from Qualcomm Technologies' heterogeneous processing and leading edge connectivity within a highly integrated SoC. The Zeroth platform provides the foundation for more intuitive experiences and natural interactions through the addition of on-device intelligence designed for a range of key mobile experiences and cognitive capabilities including:

  • Visual Perception - Devices that can take higher quality photos and videos and make searching your content easier, enabled by computer vision, on-device deep learning and smart cameras that can recognize scenes, objects, and read text and handwriting.
  • Intelligent Connectivity – Devices that can provide the fastest connectivity through autonomous optimization and seamless service across the latest and most advanced LTE, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies.
  • Intuitive Security –Devices that can be more secure by using advanced behavioral analysis to detect and protect against new malware and provide more advanced user authentication.
  • Always-on awareness – Devices that can anticipate user needs by always being aware of their surroundings through an integrated always-on sensor engine, sensor fusion and machine learning and classification algorithms.
  • Immersive multimedia – More immersive audio and visual user experiences, such as dynamic audio that can adapt surround sound based on head movement and facial recognition.
  • Speech and audio recognition – Devices that can learn and take instant actions by recognizing environmental sounds, music and speech through always-on listening, sound localization, sound identification and natural language processing.
  • Natural device interactions – Devices that can personalize and adapt interactions by recognizing gestures, expressions, and faces.

QTI will demonstrate breakthrough Zeroth-powered mobile experiences on their booth at MWC, located at the Fira Gran Via, Main Booth: Hall 3, Booth 3E10.