Business, Hardware, Software Programs

Qualcomm Talks Tablet Development and Developer Platforms

On the second day of the Qualcomm UPLINQ 2012 developer conference, Qualcomm delivered much more information regarding the future of the company’s hardware offerings, especially pertaining to developers. The majority of this information had to do with Qualcomm’s Mobile Development Platform as well as their Dragonboard and Reference Designs. The Mobile Development Platform or MDP is Qualcomm’s reference design and development platform specifically designed to help developers develop for Snapdragon based devices. Since the announcement of the Snapdragon SDK Qualcomm is showing how they are going to further improve their developer support of Qualcomm’s hardware and software features. They achieved this in a combination with the announcements of the Snapdragon SDK and the Snapdragon MDP Tablet based on the Snapdragon S4 APQ 8064 quad-core Krait processor.

The really amazing thing about the Snapdragon SDK and Snapdragon development platforms is that Qualcomm is helping to create a real ecosystem around their hardware in ways that makes it attractive for both developers, device manufacturers, and component manufacturers to want to work with their chips. There is no doubt that Qualcomm is currently the leading chip manufacturer when it comes to smartphone SoCs and overall market penetration. Because Qualcomm clearly wishes to maintain their lead, they have begun to really reach out to developers in an unprecedented manner. With the Snapdragon SDK, Snapdragon Dragonboard and Snapdragon MDPs, Qualcomm is trying to make working with Snapdragon SoCs easier while still giving developers an edge.

Currently, the preview Snapdragon SDK is available for download from Qualcomm’s QDev website and will be updated to the full version in the coming months. The MDP and Dragonboards will be getting an upgrade to the APQ8064A which was shown earlier this year to press and developers. The real astonishing thing about the APQ8064A MDP Tablet is that Qualcomm will make it available to developers months before manufacturers actually start shipping devices with those processors in them. What that means is that it allows for developers to work with future hardware and to try to get their applications bundled with certain carriers or manufacturers and to earn money that way as well as through application stores. Allowing developers time to prepare for a hardware release will inevitably result in better applications for devices running Qualcomm’s latest chips. This will result in a better end user experience for consumers and make the app developers, phone manufacturers and carriers happy.

During the Supersession by Raj Talluri, SVP Product Management, he talked about Qualcomm’s introduction of their QRDs (Qualcomm Reference Designs) that are designed to help manufacturers and operators to build cost-effective BOMs (Bill of Materials) that still deliver a top-notch experience using Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors. The Dragonboard also fits into Qualcomm’s QRD program because it enables a manufacturer or component manufacturer to effectively test different components on Qualcomm’s chips without having to manufacture a various array of test devices. With the Dragonboard, a manufacturer of displays can test their displays with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors and confirm compatibility before they even offer their products to be included on device manufacturer’s BOMs.

These programs enable for shorter times to market and for lower cost devices which will further saturate the lower-end smartphone market which still has quite a bit of room for growth in BRIC countries. By further saturating the market with Qualcomm’s chips, they expose developers using Snapdragon to develop to an even larger but less fragmented ecosystem and market using the features they’ve optimized for on Snapdragon. Qualcomm wants to enable developers to build in scale into their applications to be able to scale from the flagship processors down to the mass market ones which have the most growth potential. 

Raj also went into more detail regarding their mobile development tablet, the MDP APQ8064. The MDP APQ8064features Qualcomm’s quad-core APQ 8064 processor running at 1.5GHz with Adreno 320 graphics. In addition to four processing cores and ‘console quality’ graphics, the tablet sports a 1080P resolution display multiple microphones and a broad array of sensors ranging from light sensors to fingerprint sensors. We also happen to have one of the Qualcomm QRDs in our possession and will be taking a look at the device and talking about how it could affect the evolving markets. The MDP APQ8064 also functions as a reference platform for manufacturers to follow Qualcomm’s lead in enabling as many sensors as possible on their tablets to provide for cutting edge features and applications.

The demonstrations that Raj had displayed on stage mostly had to do with entertainment applications and showing off what the new S4 processor is capable of delivering and the potential applications that developers could make. By showing off the graphical and computational horsepower of the MDP APQ8064 in some stunning games, Raj was inspiring game developers to think outside of the box and create more visually stunning and sensor-rich video games. He also showed the CPU power of the tablet by showing six separate 1080P video streams running simultaneously and how well the quad-core 1.5GHz processor was capable of handling them as well as switching between them. Overall, it was a great showcase of what Qualcomm’s processors had to offer while also giving developers an idea of how Qualcomm is working to make their apps more powerful.