Qualcomm's new chipsets can add AI to mid-range smartphones

Snapdragon S4

Qualcomm has unveiled its latest range of chipsets designed to bring powerful machine learning capabilities and improved battery performance to mid-range smartphones.

The Snapdragon 660 and 630 mobile platform processors boast a "leap in performance" over previous generations, providing longer lasting batteries and faster speeds over LTE, according to Qualcomm.

They are both built using the 14nm FinFet process, offering support for up to 8GB of RAM and resolutions up to QHD. The 660 promises a 20% performance increase over its predecessor, the Snapdragon 653, while the 630 claims a 30% increase over the 625. Qualcomm clearly sees potential for profit in the mid-range tier, as the higher-end devices increasingly turn to the newer but more expensive 10nm process.

Battery capabilities have also been heavily optimised, with both processors supporting Quick Charge technology to produce up to 50% battery life in 15 minutes of charging.

Qualcomm has even thrown in a Neural Processing Engine SDK, which will allow developers to power applications built using machine learning. The framework offers support for Caffe/Caffe2 and TensorFlow, which enable the implementation of neural networks on the processor core - this should make it easier to integrate machine learning into new features and apps.

Other capabilities include the Qualcomm Spectra 160 camera ISP, which provides support for enhanced image qualities in lower light environments, and improved power efficiency for dual camera devices.

"With the introduction of the Snapdragon 660 and 630 Mobile Platforms, we are thrilled that features such as improved image quality and fast LTE speeds will now be available in a wide array of devices without sacrificing performance or quality," said Kedar Kondap, vice president of product management at Qualcomm.

"This ensures that a greater number of consumers will be able to take advantage of higher quality user experiences in camera, audio and visual processing, connectivity, improved CPU and GPU performance, fast charging, security and machine learning."

The Snapdragon 660 mobile platform is shipping now and the 630 will be available towards the end of the month.

Dale Walker

Dale Walker is the Managing Editor of ITPro, and its sibling sites CloudPro and ChannelPro. Dale has a keen interest in IT regulations, data protection, and cyber security. He spent a number of years reporting for ITPro from numerous domestic and international events, including IBM, Red Hat, Google, and has been a regular reporter for Microsoft's various yearly showcases, including Ignite.