Qualcomm shows its Snapdragon 810 in action

qualcomm roadmap

Qualcomm's Raj Talluri speaks at the Qualcomm UPLINQ conference.

Credit: James Niccolai

Qualcomm has given a peek at the graphics capabilities of its new Snapdragon 810 chipset, which it confirmed will start shipping in tablets and other devices early next year.

It was a brief demonstration, but it showed that the chip is working and close to release, and gives an idea of what Qualcomm thinks will set the 810 apart from rivals—namely, it’s ability to render high-definition graphics in real time.

At its Uplinq conference in San Francisco Thursday, Qualcomm showed the chip rendering a 3D image of a sports car in a computer-aided design program on an Android tablet. Changing the car’s color and outer material showed how the chip could render the reflections and surface texture at the car turned.

qualcomm roadmap James Niccolai

Qualcomm's Raj Talluri speaks at the Qualcomm UPLINQ conference.

Snapdragon chips are widely used in smartphones and tablets and Qualcomm hopes the 810 will help keep it competitive. Nvidia has shown its Tegra K1 processor doing similar rendering tricks, though the Tegra hasn’t taken off in mobile devices in the same way.

Just months away

Qualcomm has received the first samples of the Snapdragon 810 from its manufacturer and the chip will be in products in the first half of next year, said Raj Talluri, head of product management, in a speech at the start of Uplinq.

A lot of its capabilities come from the chipset’s Adreno 430 GPU, which allows devices with native 4K displays. The current Snapdragon chipsets can play 4K video when connected to an external display, but not on the device itself.

The 810 has eight ARM CPU cores and can download data over some LTE networks at up to 300 Mbps, according to Qualcomm. More detailed specs are available at the company website.

Qualcomm also got a boost Thursday from Activision, which said it ported a new version of its hit game “Skylanders” to the current Snapdragon 805 chip, which means the game will be available on tablets for the first time.

An Activision engineer showed the game, “Skylanders Trap Team,” running on an Android tablet and said the game will be out next month.

“It really does blur the line between the console experience and the tablet gaming experience,” he said.

Uplinq is Qualcomm’s conference for developers and lasts two days. As well as promoting its smartphone chips, it’s using the event to push Snapdragon chips in robots, smartwatches and virtual reality headsets.

It comes as Qualcomm faces a legal challenge from Nvidia, which claims that both Qualcomm and Samsung have infringed its intellectual property related to graphics chips. Qualcomm and Samsung have yet to respond to the complaint.

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