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Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon chips will make features like dual smartphone cameras more affordable

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Qualcomm has unveiled its Snapdragon 660 and 630 mobile processors today as part of its continuing quest to offer products that cover the whole spectrum of smartphones. The new chips are mid-range processors that will make new smartphone features more affordable and pervasive.

Dual front-facing cameras are only found in high-end smartphones today, but the 660 and 630 will enable that feature in less expensive smartphones that balance performance, cost and power, said Kedar Kondap, vice president of product management at Qualcomm Technologies, in an interview with VentureBeat.

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon family dominates mobile processing, with more than 1,000 design wins for the entire chip family. The company launched its premium Snapdragon 835 high-end processor earlier this year, and the 660 and the 630 will fill out the “high tier” part of the mobile market, while the 400 family will target the mid-tier and 200 will target entry-level smartphones. The 600 series chips also use a 14-nanometer manufacturing technology, as does the Snapdragon 835.

While the 835 is the sexy chip that enables mobile virtual reality and high-end games, the 660 and 630 will cover more of the mainstream market, enabling good-quality mobile games, 4K video playback and capture, fast LTE speeds, and better streaming video. The chips will add about two hours of battery life compared to the previous generation, Kondap said.

Above: Qualcomm’s Snapdragon mobile processor family.

Image Credit: Qualcomm

Kondap said that the new chips can easily power dual front cameras, which are useful for adding better photo quality and zoom. It means photos will have better image quality such as more natural skin towns, good low-light imagery, autofocus, video stabilization.

“This means a greater number of consumers can enjoy better experiences in camera, audio, visual processing, and connectivity,” Kondap said.

The 660 includes a new Qualcomm Hexagon 680 digital signal processor, enabling power efficient processing of imaging, computer vision, and machine intelligence workloads. Optimized software libraries include support for TensorFlow and Halide. Kondap said that gamers will be able to play for more than 10 hours on a device that uses the 660 processor.

The Snapdragon 660 and 630 both feature a Snapdragon X12 LTE Modem, paired with the new SDR660 RF transceiver, which support peak downlink data rates of 600 megabits per second to the 600-tier chips for the first time. The Snapdragon 660 supports 2×2 MU-MIMO 802.11ac Wi-Fi for twice as much data throughput and up to 60 percent lower download power consumption as the previous Snapdragon 652. The 600 series chips can also figure out where you are, using navigation technology, using 50 percent to 75 percent less power than the previous generation.

The 660 central processing unit (CPU) is 20 percent faster than the previous generation, while the Adreno core can do graphics at about 30 percent better performance than the predecessor. Both chips feature Quick Charge 4, which enables 5 hours of talk time with just 5 minutes of charging, and a 50-percent battery charge in 15 minutes.

The 660 will be available at the end of the second quarter, while the 630 will be available after the third quarter.

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