Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820A is a high-end phone chip adapted for your car

Qualcomm logoA few years ago, chip companies like Qualcomm and Nvidia used CES to make announcements about new chips for smartphones and tablets. But the smartphone market has become more saturated and less profitable, and so these companies have started chasing other markets, mostly cars and connected "Internet of Things" devices.

To that end, Qualcomm has just announced the Snapdragon 820 Automotive family of products. So far there are two versions of the chip: a standard 820A and an 820Am that adds an LTE modem. The chip is designed for in-car navigation and infotainment systems running QNX, Linux, and Android, and its wireless capabilities will keep it connected to your phone (and for the LTE version, to the Internet). The chip supports multiple displays (so it could drive the screen in your dash and an infotainment screen in the back seat at the same time); it also offers support for high-resolution 4K displays for when some company inevitably decides to cram a high-res, high-density screen into one of its cars.

Snapdragon 820A - процессор для автомобилей

Branding aside, it's clear that the 820A chips are closely related to the Snapdragon 820 SoCs that will start shipping in phones later this year. Both have Qualcomm's custom-made 64-bit Kryo CPU cores, the Adreno 530 GPU, the Hexagon 680 DSP, 14nm manufacturing process, Snapdragon X12 LTE (read: 600Mbps down, 150Mbps up), 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and other features.

The main difference appears to be the "modular approach" Qualcomm says it has taken to designing the chip, which "enable[s] a vehicle's infotainment system to be upgradeable through both hardware and software updates, thereby enabling vehicles to be easily upgraded with the latest technology."

The various 820A chips are pin-, package-, and software-compatible, so users or car manufacturers could theoretically swap out the chip or the entire package without needing to worry about software changes. Qualcomm specifically mentions upgrading LTE connectivity over the lifetime of the car to keep up with the capabilities of cellular networks.

Qualcomm says the 820A family will begin sampling in Q1 of 2016 and that it will be showing off "a number of concept vehicles and demonstrations" based on the chip in its CES booth.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: ARM, automobiles, CPUs, Qualcomm

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