On Monday, Qualcomm set out to wrest control of the tablet market from a number of tablet chip makers you've never heard of, integrating multimode 3G/4G LTE and other improvements inside its Snapdragon 400 application processor.
In addition to integrating multimode LTE for the Chinese market, Qualcomm published a reference design for 7-inch and 10-inch versions of the Snapdragon 400.
One of the problems that Qualcomm, Nvidia, and other chip providers face is that no-name Asian suppliers are eating their lunch. According to Strategy Analytics, a Chinese company called Allwinner Technologies supplied more microprocessors for tablets than both Qualcomm and rival Nvidia put together. EE Times reported last month that Allwinner supplies chips for about half the price of either American supplier, meaning that Qualcomm either has to incresse the value of its chips or risk being undercut in the market.
Qualcomm's answer, apparently, is multimode LTE--one of the features that the Asian market wants, according to the company. The Snapdragon 400 tier the first to offer multimode 3G/4G LTE on processors with both dual-and quad-core CPUs for high-volume smartphones, the company claimed, alongside other technologies, such as dual-SIM support, that customers have asked for.
Both the new processor and the reference design supporting it will be available in late 2013, Qualcomm said. The reference design, which will help OEMs design their own tablets around Qualcomm chips, will use the Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 MSM 8230 and MSM 8030 at 1.2-GHz to 1.4-GHz speeds, paired with the Android 4.2 Jelly Bean OS. The reference design also features connectivity options that include broadband HSPA+ at up to 21 Mbits/s, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, 1080p video, and graphics supplied by the Qualcomm Adreno 305 GPU.
"While some of our customers have utilized Qualcomm Reference Designs for smartphones as a foundation for building and commercializing tablets in certain regions, Qualcomm Technologies has increasingly received customer interest in a Qualcomm Reference Design specifically designed for tablets in emerging regions" said Jeff Lorbeck, senior vice president of product management at Qualcomm, in a statement. "That's why we're excited to announce this reference design specifically made for tablets, further speeding our customer's ability to commercialize devices and delivering on our commitment to enable mobile computing across device tiers."
The generic version of the Snapdragon 400 has won design wins inside the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini, if benchmark results are to be believed. Qualcomm also posted a video showing the Snapdragon 400 in action.
Separately, Qualcomm said that its Atheros subsidiary had launched the Atheros VIVE series of 802.11ac solutions, the next chapter in the ongoing Wi-Fi progression. VIVE network platforms, available in both 2- and 3-stream options, offer up to 866 Mbps and 1.3 Gbps data rates, respectively. They will be paired with Atheros' StreamBoost technology, which attempts to optimize bandwidth as it enters the home and shapes it for specific devices and applications.