Qualcomm adds 'Snapdragon' chip and shows devices

Qualcomm says it is adding new Snapdragon silicon to its series of chips for Netbooks and other small devices.

Brooke Crothers
Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
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Qualcomm said Sunday that it is adding new Snapdragon silicon to its series of chips for Netbooks and other small devices while it showcases devices at the Computex conference in Taipei.

Snapdragon-powered devices will come in various designs
Snapdragon-powered devices will come in various designs Qualcomm

The San Diego-based company announced that it is expanding the Snapdragon chip platform with a next-generation chipset that uses the 45-nanometer process technology to provide faster processing, significant battery life improvements, and other enhancements.

The chips are targeted at smartphones and so-called smartbooks. The latter is a category of small devices that, in some cases, will be similar in appearance to Netbooks but will emphasize 3G connectivity and be sold through telecommunications companies. Netbooks are small laptops typically powered by Intel's Atom processor.

The new Snapdragon QSD8650A chipset, scheduled for sampling before the end of 2009, runs a 1.3 GHz processor, achieving 30 percent higher performance as well as enhanced multimedia and 2D/3D graphics, Qualcomm said. Current Snapdragon silicon runs at 1GHz. The chip uses a manufacturing process based on the same 45-nanometer geometries that Intel currently uses for its processors.

"Utilizing 45nm technology also allows power consumption improvements such as up to 30 percent lower dynamic power (over) previous-generation Snapdragon products and an unmatched standby power of less than 10 millwatts," Qualcomm said.

Qualcomm also said that the company's device manufacturing partners will be showcasing devices powered by Snapdragon chipsets. The company will hold a press conference to highlight these new devices and discuss its smartbook strategy on Monday at Computex.

Demonstrations of Snapdragon-based devices will include Asus, Compal, Foxconn, High Tech Computer (HTC), Inventec, Toshiba, and Wistron.

"We feel the Snapdragon platform from Qualcomm holds great promise, and look forward to collaborating on groundbreaking new consumer products that redefine what is possible on a mobile device," Peter Chou, chief executive officer of HTC, said in a statement.

"Thanks to the unprecedented performance of Qualcomm's Snapdragon chipsets, we look forward to delivering a new type of user experience to the market," Alan Tsai, the senior vice president of Business Group 2 of Quanta Computer, said in a statement.