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Qualcomm Targets High-End IoT

June 19, 2018

Author: Tom R. Halfhill

Qualcomm’s new QCS605 and QCS603 IoT processors are powerful SoCs that derive from the Snapdragon 710 smartphone chip. By upgrading the image-processing hardware and software, they offer superior computer-vision capabilities. The chips are suited to high-end IoT devices that need Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity plus geolocation services. In addition to security cameras, the target applications include sports/action cameras, 360-degree panoramic cameras that stitch together images from multiple inputs, virtual-reality headsets, robotic vacuum cleaners, and any computer-vision system that must analyze high-resolution images in real time.

These chips are powerful enough to perform visual analytics and machine learning on the fly instead of relying on remote servers or offline processing. They can also analyze audio signals—for example, to serve as the intelligent ears in the gunshot-location detectors deployed in some cities.

Like its Snapdragon forebears, the QCS605 is a fast low-power processor that bolsters its octa-core CPUs with an Adreno GPU, Hexagon DSP, and dual ISPs. Also like the Snapdragons, it uses Arm’s Cortex-A75 and Cortex-A55, which Qualcomm has tweaked for better power efficiency. The A75 clocks at 2.5GHz and the A55 at 1.7GHz. The QCS605 uses these 64-bit CPUs in the familiar Big.Little configuration, sporting two of the former and six of the latter. The lower-price QCS603 has two slower A75 cores (1.6GHz) and only two of the little A55 cores.

Both chips began sampling in 1Q18; we estimate volume production will start in 4Q18. Computer vision and CPU horsepower are their main strengths, but they also provide fast wireless connectivity through 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and their broad support for geosatellite services is valuable for IoT devices that need to map their locations or synchronize their real-time clocks.

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