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Snapdragon AR2 Gen 1 and S3, S5 Sound Platform chips introduced

Snapdragon has announced four chipsets at the Snapdragon Summit 2022, including their upcoming flagship SoC, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. The other three chipsets include a new SoC for AR glasses called the AR2 Gen 1 and two sound platform chips named S3 and S5. 

The new AR chip launches as an expansion to Snapdragon’s extended reality (XR) portfolio, promising 50% lower power consumption and up to 2.5 times better AI performance than their previous XR2 Gen 1 platform. 

As for the S3 and S5 Sound Platform SoCs, Snapdragon targets them for speakers, mid-tier earbuds and stereo headsets. The new SoCs feature support for spatial audio, dynamic head tracking, and lossless audio streaming at 48ms latency with an additional voice back-channel for in-game chat. 

In the News: Qualcomm announces Snapdragon 8 Gen 2: 5 key features

Snapdragon’s purpose-built chip for AR glasses

Qualcomm has had to jump many hoops to get the AR2 Gen 1 platform to the performance benchmarks they’re claiming. The main processor is claimed to have a 40% smaller PCB area on glass and can help run a fully functional pair of AR glasses for less than one watt. 

To decrease the arm width and better balance the weight in something as sensitive as glasses, Snapdragon has divided the chip into a multi-chip architecture that includes an AR processor, AR co-processor and connectivity platform, all in separate modules. 

The AR2 Gen 1 promises significant improvement to AR glasses. | Source: Qualcomm

The main AR processor is optimised for low motion-to-photo latency with support for up to nine concurrent cameras for the user and environmental understanding. There’s also a dedicated hardware acceleration engine to improve user motion tracking and localisation and an AI accelerator for reduced latency and managing input interactions like hand tracking or 6DoF. Finally, there’s a reprojection engine for a smoother overall experience. 

As for the co-processor, the main tasks involve collecting the camera and sensor data while enabling eye tracking and iris authentication. The chip shares its connectivity specs with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, featuring the FastConnect 7800 system with support for WiFi 7 for faster wireless connectivity. 

All these changes combined to provide the new SoC with the aforementioned performance improvements of over 2.5 times better AI performance while using 50% less power. Qualcomm claims the chip can function on less than one watt of power, which translates into much better battery life for wearables in the class. 

Qualcomm did not reveal when commercial products featuring the SoC will arrive. | Source: Qualcomm

The company did not reveal what devices will feature the new chip or when it’ll be coming to the consumer market. However, it worked closely with Microsoft on the platform requirements for the chip. 

S3 and S5 Sound Platforms aim to deliver better wireless audio devices

The second generation of the S3 and S5 Sound Platforms covers all the audio features and improvements featured in the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip. This means support for spatial audio, dynamic head tracking, and lossless audio streaming at 48ms latency with an additional voice back-channel for in-game chat. Both chips are optimised to work with the company’s flagship SoC, so any products featuring the two would be interesting to watch. 

The two new sound chips share their audio specs with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. | Source: Qualcomm

In addition, both platforms also support the third-gen Adaptive Active Noise Cancellation tech from the company. Qualcomm’s ANC features support their Adaptive Transparency mode as well, which adds features like automatic speed detection to switch between noise cancellation and transparency modes. 

The company claims that the two platforms are already sampling to customers, and commercial devices are expected to arrive by the second half of 2023. 

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