Qualcomm launches the Snapdragon 617 and 430 pair

3GLTES 2015: 64-bit and LTE for the meat of the market

Qualcomm Snapdragon logoQualcomm introduced two new mid-range SoCs last week and updated their market progress too. If you were wondering how the middle of the market is going, we have some answers for you.

During their 3G/LTE Summit in Hong Kong, Qualcomm outed two new SoCs, the Snapdragon 617 and 430. As you might have guessed, these chips are the successors to the 610 and 410 respectively and are both octa-core Cortex-A53s. That means all but the Snapdragon 2xx line are now 64-bit capable designs, can a 220/230 be far behind?

While this may seem like big news, the bigger news is that both of these SoCs have LTE modems, continuing the trend set by the 210. That means the Snapdragon line now has LTE from top 8xx to bottom 2xx, the circle is complete.

On the lower end 430 we have an “X6” modem which means a Cat 4/150Mbps uplink and a Cat 5 downlink good for 75Mbps. You may have noticed that the categories are different on the up and down links, as of about a year ago this naming was approved by the 3GPP so you are not going crazy. In time it will probably make life easier than defining a new category for each up and down combo, we have too many already. Back to the specs, the 430 has 2×10 carrier aggregation downstream and 64-QAM available for the upstream, Qualcomm says this is a first in this price tier.

Stepping up to the 617, the modem is two better, that would mean an X8 branding. For the technically minded it means a full Cat 7 modem with 2×20 carrier aggregation good for 300Mbps downloads, 100Mbps uploads. Since this is about as good as any deployed network at the moment, this could be a pretty solid SoC for all around use.

On the imaging side the 430 has an Adreno 505 GPU, not sure what that entails, and an ISP that can support two cameras up to 21MP. The 617 steps this up to the dual ISP configuration found in the 620, 618, and 8xx lines. In short the whole 600 line should have all the image capture power you will need for 4K and pre/post-processing while you are filming. If that isn’t enough they both sport the latest iteration of the Hexagon DSP too.

Last up is that both of these two new chips, and the 820 when it comes out, will have the latest version of Quick Charge 3.0. While we won’t go into the details of that technology here, there is a lot of good added since the last version, it will make life better should the OEM/ODM implement it fully.

Moving back to the already released SoCs, Qualcomm updated their progress with the 410 and 210 lines. The 410 is aimed at sub-$150 phones in emerging markets, the 210 is aimed at developing countries and should be much cheaper. Both have LTE so even the lower ends of the phone space are now 4G capable out of the box.

The official update this year was that the 210 is now in 200 devices shipping or soon to be shipping, not a bad number. That however pales in comparison to the 410 which is in 550 designs on the market with a few more likely still in the works. This part seems to be the more popular of the two with a claimed 200M units shipped worldwide in the last year.

Overall the new additions clearly show where the mobile market is heading. With the exception of the 2xx line, all of Qualcomm’s parts are now 64-bit capable. On the modem front even the lowest end is now LTE bearing so it won’t be long before a 3G only phone is a dinosaur even in the developing world. Lastly on the camera side the ability to do 4K and 20+MP pictures is steadily moving down the price ladder, and all the SoCs have the bandwidth to actually work with that data stream too, to one extent or another. Trickle down features, trickle down.S|A

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Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and SemiAccurate.com. SemiAccurate.com is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of SemiAccurate.com, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also a council member with Gerson Lehman Group. FullyAccurate