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Editorial: Snapdragon Sorrows - Has Qualcomm Begun A Long, Slow Fall From The Top?

Back in late July, the Qualcomm Corporation - employer of over 30,000 individuals at the time - began the process of telling about 15% of those people (eg, over 4,000 gainfully-employed human beings) they were no longer needed. This was after already cutting another 1500 jobs in late 2014.

The company's stock is currently trading near 2-year lows, and while obviously still a very robust company, Qualcomm can't keep putting in these kinds of numbers if it's going to maintain its position at the tippy-top of the smartphone chipset market.


Qualcomm (QCOM - NASDAQ) stock is down over 10% year-to-date. It is down over 20% from its peak, reached in early 2014.

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MediaTek Announces 64-Bit Helio X Series Processors, Aiming For The High End Market

While MediaTek has become one of the dominant forces in the budget end of the mobile processing market, they are now starting to push upward. Just a year after making its first 64-bit SoC, MediaTek has announced a new 64-bit series called Helio X. These will be octa-core, LTE-capable units that support the industry's latest top-end features like 4K, H.265 video, 120 Hz refresh rates, and 1080p video capture at 480 frames per second.

At this juncture, MediaTek has introduced just one Helio X series processor. The first is the octa-core ARM Cortex-A53 Helio X10, also known as MT6795W, which will have a 28nm process and speeds up to 2.2 GHz.

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Qualcomm Reveals Its New Top-Of-The-Line Snapdragon 820 Processor At MWC, Shipping In The Second Half Of 2015

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.

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MediaTek Announces Its First 64-Bit Octa-Core LTE Chip, Brings Support For 2K Displays

Look, we get it - MediaTek isn't the first name you want to hear when it comes to innovative new SoCs. The company doesn't have the best reputation when it comes to releasing source code, which is a huge no-no in the Android world. But still, this is probably worth talking about, because it's pretty neat.


This morning, MediaTek announced the first 64-bit octa-core processor for smartphones. The chip, model number MT6795, can run at speeds up to 2.2GHz, and supports native 2K displays (2560x1600). It can also process (record and playback) super slow-motion video at 480fps in 1080p. I'm not entirely sure why you need that on a smartphone, but you know what, it's there.

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[MWC 2014] MediaTek Announces The MT6732, A 64-Bit LTE SOC For 'The New Super-Mid Market'

Following up on the announcement of the MT6595 (which will implement ARM's Cortex A17 announced earlier this month), MediaTek has announced the upcoming MT6732 SOC, targeted at what MediaTek is calling a new "super-mid market," aimed at providing a combination of cost efficiency and performance. The SOC consists of a 64-bit, quad-core, 1.5GHz ARM Cortex A53 cluster and a "next-generation" Mali T760 GPU. MediaTek boasts that the arrangement supports low-power 1080p playback with the fledgling H.265 codec, Category 4 LTE, and plenty more. Here's the full breakdown (from MediaTek):

Next-Generation 64-bit Mobile Computing System

  • Quad-core, 1.5GHz ARM Cortex-A53 processor system, delivering the performance boost and 64-bit CPUs that will become mainstream in mobile devices
  • Next-generation Mali-T760 GPU with support for the Open GL ES 3.0 and Open CL 1.2 APIs and premium graphics for gaming and UI effects

Advanced Multimedia Features

  • Supports low-power, 1080p, 30fps video playback supporting the emerging video codec standard H.265 and legacy H.264 and 1080p, 30fps H.264 video recording
  • Integrated 13MP camera image signal processor with support for unique features like PIP (Picture-in-Picture), VIV (Video in Video) and Video Face Beautifier
  • MediaTek ClearMotion™ technology eliminates motion jitter and ensures smooth video playback at 60fps on mobile devices
  • MediaTek MiraVision™ technology for DTV-grade picture quality

Integrated Multi-mode 4G LTE Modem

  • Rel.
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[CES 2013] Samsung Announces The Exynos 5 Octa, A Screaming 28nm 8-Core Processor

Oh man, if you thought quad-core phones were crazy, your brain should prepare itself for at least twice as much explosion. Samsung just announced at CES its new Exynos 5 Octa processors. These chips, on a 28nm architecture (which means they're small and use less power) have eight dang cores. The company says that this will result in up to 70% battery savings (compared to what is unclear...we would assume the previous Exynos processor).

octa1 octa2 octa3

Pics courtesy of CNET

Of course, the first thought is, "Do we really need that many cores?!" Well, for starters, yes. We'll always want more power.

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[CES 2013] Intel Uncovers Low-Power Atom Platform For 'Value Smartphone' Market, 'Bay Trail' Quad Core SoC For Tablets

Intel, not to be left out of the early CES fun, had a couple of announcements for tech fans today – a low-powered platform formerly known as "Lexington," (lovingly called Atom Z2420) for "emerging" value smartphone markets, and the Atom Z2760, codenamed "Bay Trail" headed for tablets and higher-end smartphones.

Intel says that it's already found partners in Acer, Lava International, and Safaricom for the Z2420 platform, and that the chip will be capable of 1.2GHz speed, 1080p hardware acceleration, and support for two cameras (with burst mode). With the Z2420, Intel is hoping to target what most call the budget smartphone market, which their release indicates will reach 500 million units by 2015 according to "industry sources."

The high-end Bay Trail SoC, meanwhile, is a quad core, 22nm chip that Intel hopes will expand tablet prospects in both the Windows 8 and Android arenas.

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ARM Announces Cortex-A50 Series – 64-Bit Processors 'Set To Drive The Next Era In Mobile And Enterprise'

At ARM TechCon today, the titular purveyor of semiconductors announced its Cortex-A50 series, dubbed "the world's most energy-efficient 64-bit processors." Based on the ARMv8 architecture, the line will launch with the Cortex-A53 and A57 processors, allowing not only for significantly more energy-efficient processing, but SoC scalability that makes the line applicable to devices from smartphones to high-performance servers. The A57 is geared toward high-performance, while the A53 is lauded by ARM as its most power-efficient. Both chips also support 32-bit and 64-bit ARM code, and according to ARM, the A53 can live up to the performance of the Cortex A9 at 60% the die area.

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ASUS Makes The PadFone 2 Official – Sleeker Design, Updated Specs In Tow

At an event in Milan this morning, ASUS made official the PadFone 2 – the tablet/phone combo device that looks to improve on its predecessor while continuing the goal of providing "incredible mobile flexibility." ASUS touts a redesign of both the phone and tablet elements, the integration of which appears to be much more elegant than the original, with the phone sliding vertically into the back of the tablet, ditching the clumsy door of the original PadFone for a sleek dock.

In its release, ASUS emphasizes the PadFone combo's battery first and foremost among its otherwise amped up specs. The PadFone 2 carries a 2140mAh pack, while the tablet component offers an impressive 5,000mAh that should keep things running for quite a while.

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[Rumor] Amazon Is In Talks To Acquire TI's Mobile Processor Business, Puts On Its Big Boy Business Suit

Before we get too far into this, let's point out that this rumor is coming from an Israeli newspaper, so it is easy enough for a company to disavow stories like these. With that disclaimer out of the way: Amazon may be looking into buying Texas Instrument's OMAP business. As we already know, TI has expressed interest in getting out of the mobile game. Not to say they'll stop making processors, but that the focus would be less on tablets and phones, and more on embedded SoCs for a variety of applications (such as automotive, vision, and robotics).

Of course, Amazon uses TI's mobile processors for its Kindle Fire line, which runs a very heavily modified version of Android.

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