Qualcomm Releases Four New Processors to Scale IoT Ecosystem

April 20, 2023 by Aaron Carman

Providing a major bump to AI and industrial applications, Qualcomm’s latest processors bring more computing power to the network edge.

This week, Qualcomm announced its next generation of IoT devices to provide improved performance at the network edge. The new or upgraded processors include the QCS8550, QCM8550, QCS4490, and QCM4490—with the QCS8550 and QCM8550 processors designed for performance-intense IoT applications and the QCS4490 and QCM4490 processors built for industrial handheld devices. 


Block diagrams of the new Qualcomm processors

The latest Qualcomm processors offer designers improved performance for handheld and industrial electronics. Images used courtesy of Qualcomm


As the number of connected devices continues to grow, more processing power must be allocated to the network edge to effectively process the data. In response to this need, Qualcomm says its newest devices help designers improve their edge performance.

While this isn't Qualcomm’s first rodeo with IoT electronics, the most recent announcement represents a major jump in computational power both for IoT and edge AI applications. This article examines the specs and applications of the newly announced Qualcomm chips to allow designers to determine if the latest SoCs could be used in their own applications.


QCM/QCS8850: Building a More Connected Edge AI

During edge computing, local devices perform computation instead of relaying raw data to a central server. Performance-heavy applications, such as AI, however, are much more difficult to implement at the edge because of the complexity of the models.


The network architecture shown here can make use of the QCM/QCS8550 processors

The network architecture shown here could theoretically make use of the QCM/QCS8550 processors to implement AI models at the network edge. Image used courtesy of Future Internet


To deliver the performance for edge AI, Qualcomm’s QCM/QCS8850 processors have combined raw computing power with the Qualcomm AI Engine. Qualcomm claims this improved AI performance will enable applications such as video collaboration or cloud gaming. 

The QCM/QCS8550 processors unite eight CPU cores with the Adreno 740 GPU to provide enhanced video performance, while the Aqstic audio codec allows audio processing to be performed simultaneously. In addition, 5G mmWave and Wi-Fi 7 support bring connectivity to the target device.


QCM/QCS4490: Industrial Computing With Wi-Fi 6

Qualcomm’s QCM/QCS4490 processors also aim to provide improved computing and connectivity for industrial and handheld devices. With reported speeds up to 3.6 Gbps and Wi-Fi 6/6E support, the 4490 processors may help designers get the most out of networking technologies today.

In addition to Wi-Fi support, the processors also include 5G connectivity leveraging the 3GPP Rel. 16 standard, ensuring that devices using the chip will have access to a broad network. Furthermore, the chips will be supported by Android releases 13 through 18, ensuring maximum longevity for the processors.


Timeline of different Wi-Fi bands

The QCM/QCS4490 processors leverage the Wi-Fi 6/6E bands to provide enhanced connectivity for a dense IoT network, providing communication speeds commensurate with processor power. Image used courtesy of LitePoint


Despite the mention of industrial devices as target use cases, the 4490 processors were designed for a diverse range of applications, from handheld computing to security systems. Designers can even combine handheld computing devices with Qualcomm and SES-imagotags' technology to develop electronic shelf labels, bringing AI to the consumer shopping experience. This application diversity is supported by the processor’s eight-core Kryo CPU and Qualcomm's software support.



Featured image (modified) courtesy of Qualcomm.