Qualcomm unveils Snapdragon 845 VR reference design, AI Engine and more

Qualcomm just made a grand total of 11 announcements, ranging from Snapdragon 845 feature additions to exciting new VR and AI breakthroughs, with none of the 11 press releases dated February 21 concerning any potential acquisitions or takeover attempts.

Probably the most attention-worthy of them all is the official introduction of a Snapdragon 845 mobile VR reference design, aiming to “fuel next-generation VR experiences.” Qualcomm has already partnered with both HTC and Oculus for the standalone Snapdragon 835-powered Vive Focus and SD821-based Go, so it remains to be seen which and how many “global manufacturers” will look to “quickly build” commercial headsets inspired by this latest reference design.

Billed last month as the first “mobile platform to enable six degrees of freedom (6DoF) head tracking with simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM)”, the SD845 is an outstanding graphics performer, also including something called “Adreno Foveation” as a key XR technology innovation. XR, by the way, is a term coined by Qualcomm to “encapsulate AR, VR, and everything in between.”

Bottom line, future standalone VR headsets powered by this state-of-the-art new chip could produce more immersive experiences than existing high-end PC-dependent devices.

The Snapdragon 845 also boasts “cutting-edge on-device AI processing”, although technically, even older and humbler SoCs like the 835, 820 and 660 are capable of a little bit of “on-device AI-enabled” magic.

The newly unveiled Qualcomm Artificial Intelligence (AI) Engine is comprised of several hardware and software components like a Neural Processing Engine (NPE) software framework, support for Android Neural Networks API, and a Hexagon Neural Network (NN) library.

Basically, the aim here is to accelerate AI apps on devices from a long list of OEMs already including Xiaomi, OnePlus, OPPO, Vivo, Motorola, Asus, ZTE and Xiaomi subsidiary Blackshark.

Broadcast Audio technology is another innovative new function built into the Snapdragon 845 “mobile platform”, supporting wireless music streaming from a single device to numerous headsets or speakers with “near perfect synchronization.” In a nutshell, “ad-hoc multi-speaker parties”, sharing headphones and listening to the same music from a single smartphone is made easy and crystal clear with SD845 processing power.

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About The Author
Adrian Diaconescu
Adrian has had an insatiable passion for writing since he was in school and found himself writing philosophical essays about the meaning of life and the differences between light and dark beer. Later, he realized this was pretty much his only marketable skill, so he first created a personal blog (in Romanian) and then discovered his true calling, which is writing about all things tech (in English).