Qualcomm this week introduced its new platform designed for smartwatches based on Google’s Wear OS. The long anticipated Snapdragon Wear 3100 packs four general-purpose processing cores as well a special co-processor for low-power operations designed to prolong battery life of upcoming wearables. Communication capabilities of the platform include GPS, Wi-Fi+Bluetooth, as well as 4G/LTE, which is in line with features supported by direct predecessor.

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear 3100 (MSM8909w) is the company’s most powerful SoC for wearables that the company has released to date. Just like the Snapdragon Wear 2100 introduced in 2016, the new chip packs four ARM Cortex-A7 cores clocked at 1.2 GHz. Meanwhile, the latest SoC also integrates the company’s QCC1110 co-processor designed specifically for tasks that do not require serious compute horsepower, such as sensor processing in new modes to be supported by the upcoming version of Wear OS. The co-processor also has a deep learning engine for custom workloads like detection of keywords.

Besides general-purpose cores and the co-processor, the SoC integrates Qualcomm’s Adreno 304 GPU that supports resolutions up to 640x×480 at 60 Hz as well as a high-performance DSP. As for communication capabilities, the Snapdragon Wear 3100 platform can support Qualcomm’s WCN3620 Wi-Fi/Bluetooth controller, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X5 4G/LTE modem, and GPS capabilities.  Meanwhile, the company will offer three versions of the SW3100 targeting smartwatches with different comm features.

Qualcomm says that it works closely with developers of Google’s Wear OS, so all the capabilities of the new Snapdragon Wear 3100 platform will be used by software eventually. In particular, the SW3100 will support three modes that will be a part of next-gen watches running the Wear OS, including the Enhanced Ambient Mode, Dedicated Sports Experiences, and Traditional Watch Mode. In all three cases the SW3100 will offload display and sensor processing from the Cortex-A7 and Adreno cores to the ultra-low-power co-processor, but will still be able to perform typical tasks for each mode (e.g., GPS and heart rate sensing for the sports mode).

Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear SoCs
  Snapdragon Wear 1200 Snapdragon Wear 1100 Snapdragon Wear 2100 Snapdragon Wear 3100
SoC Cortex-A7 @ 1.3GHz

Fixed-function GPU
Cortex-A7 @ 1.2GHz

Fixed-function GPU
4x Cortex-A7 @ 1.2GHz

Adreno 304
4x Cortex-A7 @ 1.2GHz

QCC1110 co-processor

Adreno 304
Process Node 28nm LP 28nm LP 28nm LP ?
Display Simple 2D UI Simple 2D UI Up to 640x480 @ 60fps
Modem Qualcomm (Integrated)
(Cat M1 & Cat NB1)
Qualcomm (Integrated)
2G / 3G / LTE (Category 1 10/5 Mbps)
Qualcomm X5 (Integrated)
2G / 3G / LTE (Category 4 150/50 Mbps)
Connected version only
Connectivity 802.11b/g/n/ac, BT 4.2 LE, GPS/GLONASS/Galileo/BeiDou 802.11b/g/n/ac, BT 4.1 LE, GPS/GLONASS/Galileo/BeiDou
(Wi-Fi and BT optional)
802.11b/g/n (2.4GHz),
BT 4.1 LE, NFC, GPS/GLONASS/Galileo/BeiDou, USB 2.0
Connected and Tethered versions

Qualcomm claims that the QCCC1110 co-processor, the PMW3100 power management sub-system, and other enhancements of the Snapdragon Wear 3100 will help to reduce the SoC's power consumption rather significantly. The net benefit from this, according to Qualcomm, is that device makers will be able to prolong the battery life of their devices by 4 to 12 hours when compared to the previous-generation Snapdragon Wear 2100 platform.

Qualcomm says that mass production of the Snapdragon Wear 3100 had already started, as have shipments to customers. The first companies to adopt the new SoC are Fossil Group, Louis Vuitton, and Montblanc.

As is usually the case for the chip vendor, Qualcomm is not disclosing when their customers intend to release their SW3100-powered watches to consumers. However what we're hearing from other sources is that the first watches should hit store shelves next month, in which case we're looking at a relatively quick turnaround time here.

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Source: Qualcomm

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  • tipoo - Saturday, September 15, 2018 - link

    Yep. Same old Qualcomm investing the absolute minimum in markets they have a monopoly in, and then spinning 3 year old chips as to the benefit of the customer, as V900 is now doing.
  • name99 - Friday, September 14, 2018 - link

    Its Qualcomm. The guys who told us that 64-bit on phones was a dumb idea. What do you expect?
    They were a company with vision five years ago, they're still a company with vision...

    As for S4 die shots, we can hope. But the S4 SiP is one TIGHTLY INTEGRATED piece of kit. No-one ripped the S3 or S2/S1 SiPs apart. The iFixIt teardown just showed us the SiP as a whole, and the X-rays weren't much better. TechInsights did a little better, but not much:

    (and they gave up before trying to peel the DRAM off the CPU underneath).

    Maybe this year there's enough interest that some nice internet folks will make a serious effort to try to get inside?
  • Lord of the Bored - Sunday, September 16, 2018 - link

    I thought the obsession with round LCDs was holding Wear back. Some of us like square watches(it is why I bought a ZenWatch 2 AFTER the ZenWatch 3 came out).
  • James5mith - Friday, September 14, 2018 - link

    Why haven't they improved the manufacturing process to something more "current" like 14nm? I understand them not wanting to manufacture a low volume part in the latest fabs where high volume/high value parts are produced, but we are now talking what.... 2010/2011 era tech?
  • tipoo - Friday, September 14, 2018 - link

    It seems to me like they did the absolute minimum to call this an update, after the complaints of the 2100 holding back WearOS.
  • PeachNCream - Friday, September 14, 2018 - link

    Smartwatches don't have mass market appeal so investments are going to be minimal at best until companies like Qualcomm see a surge in demand. Keep in mind that wrist watches in general aren't a thing anymore with the sub-50 year old population. Even the most popular fitness-only devices that made something of a splash a couple of years ago are generally collecting dust atop bedroom furniture these days and new sales are decidedly slow. Even though Apple is investing heavily in their watch platform, I suspect they're doing it to increase media attention directed at the company in general in order to generate sales for other products rather than for the watches themselves.
  • phoenix_rizzen - Friday, September 14, 2018 - link

    There's something wrong with the article layout. The last column (for the 3200) is covered by the Tweets section. Can only see the first 6 characters of each line in that column.
  • Ryan Smith - Friday, September 14, 2018 - link

    How about now?
  • Marlin1975 - Friday, September 14, 2018 - link

    Yea the last part is cut off in IE as well.
  • phoenix_rizzen - Friday, September 14, 2018 - link

    It works in Chrome on Android, scrolling the page to view the whole table.

    Won't be near a desktop until Monday, though.

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