Qualcomm is not a consumer-facing company, but they are starting to slowly change that strategy as this past week they hosted a bloggers roundtable at CES to show off their upcoming dual-core Snapdragon processors. I was so eager to attend that I actually skipped Verizon’s LTE event, but unfortunately I did not find what I was looking for – a reason to get excited about the next generation of Snapdragon processors.
The presentation started with a demonstration of the dual-core Snapdragon MSM8660 development platform. We saw some 3D games, multi-party video chat with ooVoo, and steroscopic 3D movies displayed over HDMI. The demos were cool, but I saw the same types of technology on display when I visited with NVIDIA and Texas Instruments to talk about their dual-core offerings.
What followed next was a lengthy Q&A session where I attempted to drill Qualcomm for the info that the Android community is looking for. I have the whole thing on tape, but here is a summary of what happened.
Q: When will dual-core Snapdragon products be in stores?
A: We can’t comment on our partners’ launch schedules, but we are very happy with the state the products are in. When the products come out, they will be very compelling.
Q: Does Qualcomm have a strategy to highlight premium content designed for dual-core Snapdragon products? Similar to NVIDIA’s Tegra Zone?
A: We allow the operators to differentiate their devices. The most important customers for us are the phone makers and the operators, not the end-user who buys the phone.
Q: When will the dual-core MSM8660 dev kit go on sale?
A: We are targeting end of Q1 to go commercial. Probably by April I guess we will have it. We are providing it to some of our partners right now.
Q: Can you talk about performance comparisons with other dual-core CPUs.
A: We are very happy with our performance compared to Tegra 2 and we will let you guys make the comparisons and judgments for yourselves.
Q: From the point of view of an average consumer, what are the reasons to pass on Tegra 2 and wait for Qualcomm’s dual-core Snapdragon? Why is your dual-core processor better?
A: We built our processor from scratch which gives us a power and performance advantage.
Keep in mind this is only a snapshot in time, but at CES 2011 I found no reasons for anyone to pass over the first wave of Tegra 2 phones and wait for Qualcomm’s dual-core Snapdragons. Each companies’ dual-core CPU might have small advantages in different areas, but overall the end-user will get the same experience from the first generation of dual-core Android phones.
Qualcomm showed me some cool tech demos, but NVIDIA showed me the exciting products we will be able to purchase soon (including the Atrix 4G, Droid Bionic, XOOM, and many more). NVIDIA has the advantage of being first to market with actual dual-core devices you can buy and they will have the best premium content at launch (available through Tegra Zone).
At the end of the day, you buy the best phone available that meets your needs. NVIDIA’s Tegra 2 processor wowed me in a way that no other did and that’s the reason I’m excited about buying the Atrix 4G. I’m certain that Qualcomm’s dual-core Snapdragon will be inside some awesome Android devices, but don’t expect them to arrive in stores until Q2 at the earliest.
Hopefully we will see some product announcements featuring the dual-core Snapdragons at next month’s Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona.