Qualcomm introduced the Snapdragon Wear 1100 SoC today at Computex 2016. Intended for wearable devices, such as fitness trackers, smart headsets, and connected watches for children, it features a single ARM Cortex-A7 CPU running at up to 1.2GHz and a fixed-function GPU for rendering simple 2D user interfaces. It's interesting that Qualcomm chose to stick with the A7 rather than use its replacement: the Cortex-A35. According to ARM, the A35 uses 10% less power while boosting performance between 6-40% at the same frequency and on the same process. This could simply be a matter of timing or just Qualcomm's familiarity with the A7.

The Snapdragon Wear 1100 is a compliment to the Snapdragon Wear 2100 SoC that Qualcomm announced back in February 2016, and is meant to run lean, Linux-based operating systems instead of Android or Android Wear, which require the performance of the 2100 to deliver richer, more graphical experiences like those in typical smartwatches.

The Snapdragon Wear 1100 integrates a Category 1 LTE modem that supports LTE FDD, LTE TDD, TD-SCDMA, and GSM networks with global frequency band support for keeping devices connected independent of a companion device such as a smartphone. Customers can also choose to incorporate Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity options. Another feature crucial for safety monitoring applications that use geo-fencing is the inclusion of Qualcomm’s iZat Gen 8C location engine that supports the GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and BeiDou positioning satellite networks. Location accuracy and speed are improved by augmenting GNSS with Wi-Fi and cellular networks.

Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear SoCs
  Snapdragon Wear 1100 Snapdragon Wear 2100
SoC Cortex-A7 @ 1.2GHz (256KB L2)
fixed-function GPU
4x Cortex-A7 @ 1.2GHz
Adreno 304 (OpenGL ES 3.0)
Process Node 28nm LP 28nm LP
Display Simple 2D UI Up to 640x480 @ 60fps
Modem Qualcomm (Integrated)
2G / 3G / 4G LTE (Category 1 10/5 Mbps)
Qualcomm X5 (Integrated)
2G / 3G / 4G LTE (Category 4 150/50 Mbps)
Connected version only
Connectivity 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

The Snapdragon Wear 1100’s package size is 79mm², including the modem, RF transceiver, and PMIC, and is manufactured on a 28nm LP process. Also included in the package is a low-power sensor hub and a hardware cryptographic engine, features that further reduce power consumption. When paired with a 350mAh battery, Qualcomm claims the Snapdragon Wear 1100 allows for up to 7-days of LTE standby.

Wearables featuring the higher-performing Snapdragon Wear 2100 SoC should be available in the second half of 2016, while the Snapdragon Wear 1100 is available to ODMs starting today.

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  • Spunjji - Wednesday, June 1, 2016 - link

    Qualcomm's offerings in this area have been disappointingly low-tech so far. It would be nice for somebody to take ARM's newer core designs and kick them around a bit.
  • wicketr - Wednesday, June 1, 2016 - link

    I just wish someone could come out with a color "e-ink"-like display that could do 60fps and had i high color fidelity.

    I want a watch that will last 3-7 days without having to be recharged, and until they can do something about the battery drain of these LCD/OLED displays, that won't be possible.
  • name99 - Wednesday, June 1, 2016 - link

    There is value in a device that can last two days without charging, insofar as it gives you a lot of headroom for very busy days. But there is very little value to "3..7" days. You're still going to charge it every night (because you'd have to be a very abnormal person to maintain some sort of "charge every third day" schedule in your head).
    So now you're giving up something --- performance, functionality, screen quality, SOMETHING, in return for a feature that's basically worthless except for bragging to your friends.

    There's a reason that most phones, tablets, laptops, etc are basically specced to "one day of heavy use" --- beyond that just does not make sense for 95% of users.
  • wicketr - Wednesday, June 8, 2016 - link

    Do you ever go out of town for the weekend? Do you ever spend the night out at someone's house? I don't want to carry an extra charger around with me on trips. Additionally, most of these require specialized chargers, and people may forget to charge overnight. It'd be one thing if they were all micro-USB, but they aren't.

    I have a Garmin Forerunner 230. It has GPS, daily step/sleep tracking, Bluetooth, notifications, AND lasts for 10 days/charge. It's possible to create such a watch already.
  • flyingpants1 - Thursday, June 2, 2016 - link

    I agree. I'll buy a smartwatch when e-ink works well, not before.

    Qualcomm Toq review, it has e-ink and lasts for several days https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUbR5qmYEL8
  • name99 - Thursday, June 2, 2016 - link

    To me the Toq shows
    - severely limited angle of visibility
    - manually controlled backlight
    - inability to present "fades" and other sophisticated design elements (ie just a few colors, not a full palette)
    - my guess (not sure) is that it is not fast enough for video of the form that Apple uses, both for some watch faces, and for when using the watch to control a camera.

    I think Mirasol (which is what Toq is using, NOT eInk) definitely has its place, but I don't think it matches Apple's vision for the watch as a general purpose wrist computer. Where it WOULD make sense, IMHO, in Apple's product line, would be on the Apple Pencil to show something about the current "mode" of the pencil, and to allow one to use multiple pencils simultaneously, in the same way that one might use multiple real pencils or pieces of chalk simultaneously --- if each pencil has a Mirasol display showing that it's currently "this color" and "drawing in this way", then this sort of functionality becomes feasible. And the limitations of Mirasol (slow, not that wide a palette, etc) don't really matter for this usage.
  • tuxRoller - Thursday, June 2, 2016 - link

    Who said anything about Apple?
    While they have,from what I've seen, the best heart rate sensor on a smart watch (a must have, imho) they really have a pretty poor ux when compared to some of the competition. So, in this instance, I don't think Apple is pushing forward the form factor in any particular way, or, iow, their uses matter less here than in some other places.
  • shadarlo - Thursday, June 2, 2016 - link

    Agreed, to me wearables are 100% about battery life. If I can't get at LEAST 3 days from one, I have no interest at all.
  • Meteor2 - Thursday, June 2, 2016 - link

    I love my 360 2nd gen. Yeah it was weird at first to charge my watch every day but it soon becomes normal. The discrete notifications and navigating without getting your phone out are great. Dictating replies works too.
  • DanNeely - Wednesday, June 1, 2016 - link

    I'm sure A35 will happen eventually; but with wearables a much smaller market than low end phones the amount of money available for the R&D needed to integrate newer components is much smaller; meaning they won't arrive quickly. (Power constraints make the assorted high end cores non-starters.)

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