I know there’s a lot of noise because Apple did it on their A7. I think they are doing a marketing gimmick. There’s zero benefit a consumer gets from that
Those are the words of a Qualcomm executive dismissing Apple’s 64-bit chip that came with the then newly launched iPhone 5s. Anand Chandrasekher, a senior vice president and Chief Marketing Officer of the company was “re-assigned” shortly after making those remarks. That signalled something. That Qualcomm won’t just sit there and let others take the lead. It would act and act it did. Qualcomm has just announced its new chip, the Snapdragon 410. This new chip comes shortly after the announcement of the Snapdragon 805 but it is special in two ways: it is Qualcomm’s first 64-bit chip and it is also aimed specifically at bringing the power of 4G LTE to the masses that will gladly not spend over $150 dollars on a smartphone.
The iPhone 5s and its dual core 64-bit A7 processor did start a storm that you won’t see ending any time soon: the 64-bit craze. Many companies have come out to express plans to release their own 64-bit chips for their next generation of devices. Samsung already made it clear that its 2014 product line up will see the much talked about 64-bit architecture feature. It is not an easy undertaking and it is not largely necessary at this point but due to advancements in technoogy those boundaries need to be pushed. Its never enough. Just see what is happening with displays. 1080p is simply not enough and 2K displays are the latest obsession as we transition to 4K displays on mobile devices (seriously?) in the next few years.
Apart from 4G LTE and of course 3G connectivity what else will the Snapdragon 410 support? Many current smartphone features. These will include a capable Adreno 306 GPU to help render those 1080p videos many will be playing on their Snapdragon 410-powered devices. The chip will support a camera module of upto 13 megapixels and dual or triple SIMs. Your usual bunch of wireless connectivity like bluetooth, Wi-Fi and NFC will also be supported as will, surprise… FM radio!
The QRD version of the Snapdragon 410 will be available to Qualcomm’s partners under the program (you can read more about the Qualcomm Reference Design program here). You know what that means? Those Tecnos you see favourably priced and which have gained a lot of traction all over Africa will likely pack this new SoC. Remember it is a souped up (quadcore) Snapdragon 400 that powers the Moto G so the capabilities of that new chip even before you bring in its 64-bot architecture cannot be understated. The most interesting bit is that the Snapdragon 410 is what we expect to open the floodgates of 64-bit chips from Qualcomm going forward.
Other chip makers like Samsung and Mediatek are already in top gear preparing to out chips with a 64-bit architecture too never mind the fact that Android 4.4 Kitkat failed to include support for 64-bit chips at the OS level even though we expect that to happen with the next iteration of Google’s mobile operating system. Samsung will push ahead with an update to its Exynos chip lineup (Exynos 6?) to support 64-bit and probably feature the 16 nm process unlike the current 28 nm standard (the Snapdragon 410 packs this). MediaTek has already signed an agreement with ARM to use ARM’s Cortex A50 in its new chip which will be based on ARM’s v8-A architecture that supports both 32-bit and 64-bit. We know MediaTek can do it since it is the only chip maker to challenge Samsung in the octa-core race with its MT6592 We’ve heard little from chipmaker Nvidia but word from those in the know suggests that we might see the Tegra 5 “Logan” chip succeeded by a 64-bit Tegra 6 “Parker” chip sometime in the coming year.
The Snapdragon 410 is optimised for use on any of these three platforms: Windows Phone, Firefox OS and Android. The chip will make it to devices available starting the second half of 2014.