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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  • hertzsae - Friday, September 14, 2018 - link

    Same for me using Chome, but it looks fine in Firefox.
  • syxbit - Friday, September 14, 2018 - link

    This is a terrible update. It's proof that Google needs to take things into its own hands to enable competitive Android Wear devices. Samsung and Apple both make their own superior chips. QCOMM has no real competition, and is releasing garbage. And Android Wear devices suffer.
  • PeachNCream - Friday, September 14, 2018 - link

    Google probably would be best taking over the project, but they don't have the hardware engineering staff and facilities already so spin up would be a lengthy and expensive prospect for what we already know is a very small market. Even if Android Wear has good hardware behind it, chances are it will remain a niche so it would take many years for Alphabet to turn a profit even assuming wearables experience growth. At the moment, they lack a killer app and are thus in a state of decline amid poor sales, weak support from companies, and privacy concerns recently raised over location and biometric tracking.
  • V900 - Friday, September 14, 2018 - link

    The problem is that the market isn’t big enough for huge investments in new cores and lower nodes.

    The only Smartwatches that sell really well are the cheap ones.

    Even Apple is selling more old model watches than the 3-400$ Generation 3.

    Heck, even the Fitbit is outselling Apple Watch Gen 3.
  • name99 - Friday, September 14, 2018 - link

    "Even Apple is selling more old model watches"
    This is simply not true. As far as we can tell, cumulative units of Series 3 exceeded Series 2 somewhere around Feb 2018.

    As for Fitbit sales, seriously? Apple Watch revenues exceeded FitBit in 2017. Volumes were SLIGHTLY less (about 12 million vs about 15 million), meanwhile Apple has gone up in 2018 and FitBit has gone down.

    You're like that guy who, not just at release of the iPhone, but even at release of the iPhone 4, keeps insisting that smartPhones are just a fad and the revenge of Blackberry and Nokia is gonna happen any day now.
  • dudedud - Friday, September 14, 2018 - link

    This should be called 2150
  • sing_electric - Friday, September 14, 2018 - link

    There's been a lot of press saying the 2100 was holding the Wear ecosystem back, and was the reason that we've been stuck with relatively bulky watches with so-so battery life, particularly since it's 28nm-based.

    But if that's the case, why haven't Samsung's watches, which use Exynos chips, had a radical change in form factor? The Galaxy Watch is virtually the same size as the S3 frontier, which is actually larger than the S2.

    Other sources say the 3100 is also 28nm-based (which makes sense given the re-use of 4x A7 cores w/Adreno 304) but I'm not sure that's as much of a hindrance as most people claim IF the ultra-low-power processor can take over most of the load. >95% of the time a smartwatch is on my wrist, the processor is doing nothing other than keeping the OS warm and occasional screen updates.
  • V900 - Friday, September 14, 2018 - link

    Smartwatches hasn’t taken off.

    And the ones that are selling, are the lower priced ones.

    Until consumers decide to wanting to pay 4-500$ for one (and even Apple has problems there) there isn’t a market for specialized CPUs on expensive nodes.
  • tipoo - Saturday, September 15, 2018 - link

    The Apple Watch certainly seems to pack a lot more processor punch within a much lower total product volume. I'll be curious to see the node used in die scans. 7nm might be too costly for the segment, but even 14nm would be a big leg up from the 28nm fab used here.
  • V900 - Friday, September 14, 2018 - link

    The basic problem here is that Smartwatches are still rather useless devices, unless you have a specific usecase for it (Like fitness tracking. And even then, most people are more likely to get a 200$ fitness tracker rather than a 400$ Smartwatch.)

    Sure, smart watches are kinda cool, they’re a neat gadget, but it doesn’t do anything that a cellphone doesn’t already do.

    And even in the edge scenarios where a watch is more useful than a phone (like holding something in both hands) the drawbacks are still too big and the usefulness too small for people to pay 400$ for one.

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