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Qualcomm QCC5100 Hits Hearables

February 6, 2018

Author: Linley Gwennap

Extending its new all-Kalimba architecture, Qualcomm’s QCC5100 greatly reduces system-level power consumption. The new product uses the same basic quad-core architecture that debuted in last year’s CSRA68100, but the company scaled it down for lower power and a smaller package. The 5100 also upgrades to Bluetooth 5 and adds hybrid ANC (active noise cancellation). A low-power keyword-detection mode enables use in voice-controlled smart speakers, headsets, and other “hearables.” The chips are due to enter production next month, with the first devices reaching store shelves in 2Q18.

For most new designs, the 5100 replaces the CSR8675, which was the last chip to use the “old” CSR-developed architecture that featured a proprietary 16-bit CPU core and a single proprietary 32-bit DSP known as Kalimba. The 5100 instead has two Kalimba DSP cores for audio processing and two additional Kalimba cores, which the company calls application processors (APs), that can run an RTOS and other high-level software. Compared with the 68100, the first quad-core CSR chip, the 5100 runs the DSP cores at half the speed (120MHz) and the AP cores at a reduced speed of 80MHz.

The company says a basic Bluetooth headset based on the older 8675 consumes about 18mA when the user listens to music or other audio. For a typical battery, this system-level power draw works out to 3–4 hours of active use. Qualcomm expects similar designs employing the 5100 to consume about 6mA, which would triple the battery life to as much as 12 hours. The new chip extends the company’s audio lineup with a next-generation architecture that greatly reduces power while providing additional capabilities such as hybrid ANC and always-on mode. These features make it an attractive solution for small Bluetooth devices such as headsets, earbuds, and hearables.

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