Qualcomm new category of handheld gaming devices
Qualcomm on Wednesday (Dec 1) released a new chip designed for gaming-specific handheld devices offering 5G connectivity, a potential new mobile platform for video gamers offering more flexibility to play streaming games on the go.
The San Diego-based firm said it has partnered with gaming hardware company Razer to create an initial test device for game makers.
Qualcomm is the world’s biggest supplier of chips for smartphones, which have become a key platform for video games, which in turn are one of the biggest revenue generators in mobile app stores.
With its “G3x Gen 1” chip announced on Wednesday, Qualcomm envisions handheld devices that have a touch screen similar to a smartphone, but also physical controls like a gaming console controller and much longer battery life while playing graphics-intensive games.
The most popular similar device on today’s market is the Nintendo Switch, but that device does not feature cellular data connectivity, instead relying on a Wi-Fi connection.
Qualcomm powered devices would have 5G connectivity to stream games directly from cloud gaming providers like Microsoft when Wi-Fi is not available. The devices would also have bigger batteries to take advantage of Qualcomm’s graphics processing capabilities, which often are not fully exploited on phones because it would hurt battery life.
“The big thing about the phone is it’s always going to fit in your pocket. There are a lot of compromises that go into a phone for the use cases that are not gaming,” Mr Micah Knapp, senior director of product management at Qualcomm, told Reuters in an interview. “So what happens if you build a device that’s just for gaming?”
Qualcomm said it has partnered with Razer, a maker of gaming PCs and laptops, to create an initial “developer kit” that game makers can use to start writing software.
Qualcomm did not give a time frame for when commercial devices for consumers might appear.
New flagship smartphone chip
Qualcomm on Tuesday also released its new top-tier smartphone chip aimed at premium-priced Android phones with features like sharper photos and graphics than handsets using chips from rivals.
The company is the biggest supplier of the chips at the heart of many Android phones, competing against rivals such as Taiwan’s MediaTek and Samsung Electronics, which uses Qualcomm chips in some of its phones but self-supplies chips for some models.
The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip released Tuesday will have similar computing cores to rivals like MediaTek, which in November announced a chip aimed at premium phones. But almost every other part of the chip is custom designed by Qualcomm, including those playing a role in the visual quality of photos and graphics-intensive apps like games.
Mr Alex Katouzian, senior vice president and general manager of mobile, compute and infrastructure for Qualcomm, said the company has been crafting software that will let handset makers tap deeper into those parts of the chip.
“It’s not just saying, I’ve got the biggest CPU and I can hit a benchmark that lasts one minute,” Mr Katouzian told Reuters in an interview. “We have all these capabilities, and it’s really about the user experience. That’s going to make a difference.”
Qualcomm said that more than a dozen phone makers – including Xiaomi, Sony Group and Honor, the brand spun out of Huawei Technologies Group – have signed up to use the new chips and that phones featuring it will be on the market before the end of the year.