Electronic Design
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(Image courtesy of Pierre Lecourt, Creative Commons).

Qualcomm Calibrates Chips for Sensors and Household Devices

Qualcomm has further distanced itself from the smartphone market, releasing two embedded chips for applications from set-top boxes to household devices.

On Wednesday, the chip supplier revealed the Snapdragon 410E and 600E, slightly recalibrated versions of Qualcomm’s mobile computers based on blueprints from ARM Holdings. The new chips are more evidence of just how seriously Qualcomm has started to expand into new markets.

With smartphone sales slowing in recent years, Qualcomm has tuned its processors for data centers and automobiles. It has also built a small cache of chips for embedded applications, including robotics, surveillance cameras, and wearable sensors. And further change could be on the horizon. 

Qualcomm is apparently in talks to acquire NXP Semiconductors, the world's largest automotive chip maker betting on autonomous cars and connected sensors. The deal could be signed within the next three months, The Wall Street Journal reports. Electronic Design could not independently confirm the reports.

Qualcomm will wrestle with significant competition. Intel has also ventured low-power chips based on its Atom architecture for powering tiny connected sensors, wearables, and dashboard displays in cars. It has also acquired chips from the start-up Movidius that handle images more efficiently than conventional chips.

The new chips represent other changes in how Qualcomm does business. They will be the first Snapdragon chips to be sold through distributors. Arrow Electronics is the first distributor to sell the new chips, and Qualcomm said that it will provide at least ten years of support for them.

“We can now offer this technology to a much wider range of customers with the additional benefit of long-term support and availability,” said Raj Talluri, Qualcomm’s senior vice president of product management, in a statement.

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