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Qualcomm Targets 5G Embedded

July 20, 2021

Author: Aakash Jani

Qualcomm has released four new embedded products in a full-on blitz targeting industrial tablets, drones, point-of-sale terminals, kiosks, and similar applications. Whereas the company has previously targeted embedded applications using rebranded Snapdragon products, the new release features semicustom designs that reuse and in some cases modify intellectual property (IP) from existing smartphone processors. The new chips are in production now or should be later this quarter. Most of these chips come in two variants: QCM products with Wi-Fi and cellular and QCS products with Wi-Fi only.

The QCS8250 integrates two-year-old Cortex-A77 CPUs and an Adreno 650 GPU. Its dual-core image processor can handle seven cameras (not simultaneously). The part features an impressive video codec, which decodes 8K video at 60fps and encodes it at 30fps. Qualcomm paired its four-core 1.5GHz Hexagon DSPs with a custom deep-learning accelerator (DLA) to deliver 15 trillion INT8 operations per second (TOPS).

For audio, the 8250 supports multiple microphones and has a small DSP for always-on voice activation. A separate RF chip enables Wi-Fi 6, BT5.1, and sub-6GHz  5G, delivering 7.5Gbps on the downlink. The 8250 can power high-end home security systems and prosumer drones, pairing multicamera capability with modest AI inferencing.

The QCS6490, the second in the new lineup, packs a similar CPU plus an overclocked (812MHz) GPU. Both chips integrate IP similar to the Snapdragon 778G’s, a mid-premium design. Like its CPU and GPU, the 6490’s DLA is also a mid-premium design similar to the Snapdragon 768G’s. This DLA sports two Hexagon DSPs and a tensor accelerator to deliver 11 trillion INT8 multiply-accumulate (MAC) operations per second. It enables the 6490 to perform edge inferencing for single-camera systems.

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