Recently, Qualcomm has published a blog post titled “Moving beyond processors to platforms” in which the company outlines changes to the Snapdragon brand with an emphasis on no longer communicating about Snapdragon as a “processor,” but as a “platform.” Since we are going to hear about this often, I wanted to have a reference page on Ubergizmo.
Not “just” a processor: true
To Qualcomm’s point, it is true that referring Snapdragon as just a processor is an injustice to the overall work and care that go into Snapdragon chips. Looking at the overall diagram, it is clear that “processor” often refers to what is a minority part of the chip: CPUs, and sometimes GPU.
There are many more sub-units such as ISP (Image Signal Processor), Integrated Modem, DSP (digital signal processor), dedicated low-power standby processor that rarely get mentioned. Mainly because they are difficult to compare in benchmarks.
As a chip, Snapdragon is a “system-on-a-chip” (or SoC), which is the equivalent of a whole computer + communications, on a single chip. This chip is then supported by additional elements on the motherboard.
There are also technologies that are external to the Snapdragon chip die: the RF front end that is critical to worldwide radio compatibility, the high-quality Qualcomm Audio DAC, cutting-edge WiFi support and a closed security apparatus that increase the safety of your data.
The platform is what OEMs pay for
The Snapdragon Platform encompasses everything of what Qualcomm provides in the context of Snapdragon: the chips, reference designs, software, and services. A Qualcomm client can get up and running with extreme use, and that is causing a small revolution in new markets.
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon brand was originally introduced for smartphones, but it has since made its way to Routers, Cars, IP cameras, VR, Drones and even Laptops. It makes sense that the company wants to align the brand with this new reality.
The Snapdragon platform adds enormous value to the industry. Nearly every OEM we talked to said that in the end, it is simply “easier” or “more convenient” to work with Qualcomm than with alternatives. The whole Snapdragon package is what they are paying Billions for.
That statement is validation enough for the platform, and that is why Snapdragon 82x got nearly all the high-end handset designs in 2016 – even with serious competition from Apple (iPhone+iPad only), Huawei (HiSilicon) and Samsung (Exynos).
Whether this new branding will take hold, I do not know. Over the years, Snapdragon has become a formidable brand for… processors. It is true that the public does not fully appreciate everything that goes around the main chip. It will be a long process to change user perception and awareness.