Qualcomm shows implemeted tech at MWC

Gigabit LTE, secure frameworks, and watches all as products

Qualcomm Snapdragon logoMWC this year will have a host of demos from Qualcomm showing implemented technology. If you were waiting to see their fingerprint sensors, GbLTE/Cat 16, and the new smartwatch platforms, you know where to go.

The demos announced today fall into the three broad categories above, but lets look into the details starting with the security and SenseID ultrasonic fingerprint sensors they showed off last year. This one is quite impressive for two reasons, reach and security. The reach part is due to the nature of what is read, ultrasonic waves which pass through glass, wet fingertips, and metals, the stiffer the better. Since the idea behind modern phone material choices involves high stiffness materials, SenseID is a great fit. Touch the glass and off you go.

Probably more important to the mission at hand however is the fact that the sensor does not need to send data across the bus, it does not pass the raw input to the SoC for processing. This lessens the attack surface and likely only passes a token back to the main SoC when done processing that data. The news from MWC is that WeChat’s mobile payment service is compatible with Qualcomm’s Haven security framework now adding a billion or so users to the TAM. This includes all 400, 600, and 800-series SoC that support Haven.

A few days ago Qualcomm launched their Snapdragon Wear 2100 platform, basically a smartwatch with a Snapdragon 400-series SoC inside. Development platforms are useful to developers but not as much fun for end users, something which tends to limit sales a bit. Since Qualcomm likes to sell silicon you could probably guess that there would be partners selling Wear 2100 based designs after launch.

Less than a week later that ‘prediction’ came true, what a guess! Today there are three partners offering designs, Borqs, Compal, and Infomark. If you are not familiar with these brands that is on purpose, they are all ODMs. This means the things they make will probably be sold under dozens of other brand names, each slightly tweaked by the companies whose name ends up on the box. More interesting is that Borqs and Infomark are making kid-oriented designs plus an elderly-aimed smartwatch line on the Infomark side. Compal being Compal will probably have a design for every niche under the sun as usual.

Last but not least is one that everyone expected, demos of the Gigabit LTE Cat 16 modem. This may be somewhat anticlimactic by now but seeing it working in a public venue, especially one as RF-unfriendly as MWC, should be quite interesting. Actually modem demos are rarely interesting to watch but are very technically impressive. SemiAccurate expects this one to be just that, stay tuned for more details in a few days.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