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Qualcomm looks for options to spur flagging lines

Posted: 08 Jul 2010     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Qualcomm Brew OS  mobile OS  processor  Wi-Fi  mobile TV 

Emerging tech
Qualcomm is developing related technologies, which are in R&D. For example, it is working on 3D devices based on through-silicon-via (TSV) technology. And a new and surprising player could soon invade the magnetic RAM (MRAM) industry: Qualcomm. And the cell phone chip giant is getting help from one of its foundry partners: Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (TSMC).

At various conferences in recent times, Qualcomm and TSMC have jointly presented papers on MRAM. The two companies also have been experimenting with spin transfer torque (STT) MRAM, and are working on a 32-megabit embedded memory solution at the 42nm node, according to sources.

With the move, Qualcomm could be looking to grab more IP share of the cell phone market. It is already a major player in the base band segment. Now, it wants an embedded MRAM play, possibly turning the industry upside down.

Embedded MRAM could "replace embedded SRAM plus NOR as well as embedded DRAM and NAND," according to one source. Qualcomm "is interested in MRAM because of its speed, power and non-volatility."

MRAM is a memory that uses the magnetism of electron spin to provide non-volatility. It is supposed to deliver the speed of SRAM with the non-volatility of flash in a single unlimited-endurance device. STT-RAM is a second-generation MRAM technology.

At Uplinq, meanwhile, Qualcomm also touted other technologies, many of which are just emerging from R&D. For some time, Qualcomm has been pushing augmented reality as possibly the "next big thing" in mobile and other platforms.

"Augmented reality allows computer-generated content to be superimposed over a live camera view of the real world," according to Qualcomm. "The concept has seen growing interest among developers for its potential to create applications that are more intuitive and interactive."

It is also based on computer vision technology recently acquired from Imagination Computer Services GmbH. Qualcomm moved to accelerate the technology by unveiling plans to offer an augmented reality platform and software development kit (SDK).

Toy maker Mattel Inc. is one of the first consumer products companies embracing augmented reality. It has used Qualcomm's SDK to bring the classic Rock 'Em Sock 'Em game to the modern era. Additionally, Qualcomm has collaborated with leading game engine developer Unity Technologies in the arena. A beta version of the SDK will be available to developers this fall.

In addition, Qualcomm this week also talked about proximity-based peer-to-peer technology. This would enable various devices to directly sync with different networks without going through the central network. Qualcomm is devising technology based on software, which would be provided via an open source model, said Rob Chandhok, senior VP of software strategy at the company. This in turn could open up the market for social networking, gaming and other technologies on mobile devices, he said.

- Mark LaPedus
EE Times

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