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Wear 3100 Boosts Smartwatch Life

September 18, 2018

Author: Bob Wheeler

Qualcomm’s answer to longer smartwatch battery life is big-small-tiny. The company’s new Snapdragon Wear 3100 platform adds a “tiny” real-time controller to augment the main processor’s “big” quad Cortex-A7 CPUs and “small” Hexagon DSP. The new architecture combines Wear OS running on the main processor with an RTOS running on the new QCC1110 controller. It also splits Qualcomm’s smartwatch platforms, with the Snapdragon Wear 3100 (SDW3100) serving Wear OS designs and the recent Snapdragon Wear 2500 targeting kid watches and Android designs.

Adding the QCC1110 controller also creates a dual-mode smartwatch—one that can run Wear OS in normal operation but shift into an RTOS-only mode to extend battery life. A customer could, for example, design the watch to shut down Wear OS when the battery charge falls below 20%, allowing the watch to offer limited functions until it can be recharged. After all, who wants to pay $250 for a wrist weight?

Aside from adding the QCC1110, the SDW3100 chipset is identical to the SDW2500. It includes the MSM8909w main processor, QCC1110 controller, PMW3100 power-management IC (PMIC), WCN3620 Wi-Fi/Bluetooth combo, and optional GPS or combo cellular/GPS transceivers. For cellular designs, Qualcomm’s GaAs power amplifiers reduce power dissipation compared with the CMOS devices in the prior-generation Snapdragon Wear 2100. For mobile payments, the 3100 platform includes an optional NQ330 NFC chip from NXP.

Qualcomm has more than an 80% share of Wear OS devices, so it must expand the Wear OS market to expand its wearables business. In smartwatches, its planned trifecta includes adding Android-phone OEMs, luxury/fashion brands, and sports specialists. Reducing power dissipation is paramount to increasing adoption, enabling more user interaction and better industrial design balanced with acceptable battery life.

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