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Qualcomm's Snapdragon Blossoms in CES Keynote


If there was one all encompassing point to Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs' somewhat fragmented Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2013 keynote, it is that wireless isn't just the future – it's the present. From netbooks to tablets and smart phones, the PC has been overtaken as the leading way to create and consume content.

At the center of Jacobs' address was Qualcomm's Snapdragon line of chipsets, touting multiple CPUs, GPUs, modems and HD-video-decoding circuitry all on the same chip. The latest versions were announced at CES on Monday, with the 800 series offering 75 percent speed increases over its predecessor, the Snapdragon S4 Pro.

What Jacobs made clear was this: processors like these, offering more power than many laptop processors and 150 megabit per second modems, will help widen the breach between mobile devices and their plugged-in counterparts.

Perhaps the most popular application for Qualcomm's bouquet of Snapdragons is the emergency of Ultra HDTV – a display capable of reaching up to 3840x2160 pixels with four times the pixel density of today's 1080p high-definition standard.

To demonstrate the diverse applications for Snapdragon, Qualcomm brought on personalities such as screenwriter and director Guillermo del Toro, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Brad Keselowski, and Star Trek Into Darkness actress Alice Eve to showcase the various apps, mobile devices and televisions that the little chip will power. Even Big Bird made an appearance to demo an educational app by Sesame Workshop.

But this bump in mobile computing power puts extra demands on networks, especially when it comes to Ultra high-definition content. To accommodate Qualcomm's predicted 1,000-fold increase in network traffic in coming years, Jacobs called on users and the government, asking for increased portable base station (femtocell) use and allocation of underutilized licensed spectrum for unlicensed wireless communication. Qualcomm intends to do its part via subsidiary Atheros, Inc., which last week introduced a smart traffic manager, “SteamBoost” for Wi-Fi routers and gateways.

Jacobs' keynote concluded with the help of Maroon 5, whose presence (like those of the keynote skits) seemed random to some. But perhaps next year we will all be watching the CES keynote on our Snapdragon-powered Ultra HDTVs, and Qualcomm will have the last laugh.

Full story at Scientific American

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