Qualcomm adds IoT processors and accelerator programme

  • March 22, 2023
  • Steve Rogerson

Qualcomm announced at last week’s Embedded World in Nuremberg integrated 5G IoT processors to support four major operating systems, in addition to two robotics platforms, and an accelerator programme for IoT ecosystem partners.

“Qualcomm is committed to fuelling innovation, creating new business opportunities, enabling the next generation of 5G connectivity and premium edge AI, and that starts with ensuring accessibility and performance across the ecosystem,” said Dev Singh, vice president at Qualcomm.

The firm has upgraded its high-tier QCS6490 SoC and QCM6490 processors, used for IoT applications, to support four different operating systems. They can now run Linux, Ubuntu and Microsoft Windows IoT Enterprise, in addition to Android.

“Our collaboration with Qualcomm is designed to help companies easily build, deploy and operate a diverse range of Windows IoT-based cloud-connected edge devices in key industries including industrial, retail and healthcare,” said Kam VedBrat, partner director of Azure at Microsoft. “Windows IoT brings enterprise-grade security, device management tools, and long-term servicing to ensure secure and reliable operations.”

The QCS6490 and QCM6490 offer features such as 5G support for global connectivity and geolocation for connected camera devices such as dashcams, edge boxes, industrial automation equipment, autonomous mobile robotics and more.

The software-defined IoT offerings combine performance, connectivity and support for multiple OS options. They can scale across a wide footprint of IoT devices and deployment configurations for a visual environment. OEMs – including builders of industrial handheld devices, retail equipment, mid-tier robots and connected cameras, and AI edge boxes – will have the flexibility to choose between premium, pre-set or customised feature packs today, and then upgrade them in the future.

The QCM5430 and QCS5430 support up to five vision sensors inputs, and video encoding at up to 4K30. They are ready to support machine vision requirements with low-power and edge-AI processing. When necessary, the edge AI can switch to cloud processing for handling multiple camera connections, optimising between response time and power efficiency, as the manufacturer or user requires. All are designed to support enterprise-grade on-device security.

Both pre-set platform packages include premium connectivity. Wifi support includes 802.11ax (Wifi 6E) with transmit speeds up to 3.6Gbit/s and other enhancements for reduced latency, increased responsiveness and seamless handoffs in dense mesh environments such as hospitals and warehouses. The connectivity suite on the QCM5430 processor variant also includes a 5G modem that supports mm-wave connectivity for fast data and precise geolocation.

The packages’ wired connectivity options start with a single USB 3.1 port and one PCIe port and can be configured for up to two PCIe and a 4K60 display port, as well as other options.

The upgraded Feature Pack 2 ramps up the options with increased CPU performance and interface support. Users can choose from scalable and upgradable options as part of the Custom Feature Pack, including support up to 4K 60fps video and up to triple ISP camera.

Robotics innovators can create everyday robotics and IoT products with the firm’s Robotics RB1 and RB2 platforms, powered by the QRB2210 and QRB4210 processors, respectively. Both platforms are optimised for smaller devices and lower power consumption, making them more cost effective and accessible for the industry.

The robotics platforms feature general compute and AI-focused performance and communications technologies, with built-in support for machine vision for up to three cameras, providing on-board intelligence to meld these data with sensors from TDK for applications such as autonomous navigation.

The RB2’s feature set extends on the RB1, with upgraded compute and GPU power with a dedicated AI accelerator that offers double the processing capability. This gives it the capability to perform real-time, on-device AI and machine-learning, detection, classification and environmental engagement. It can support cameras with up to 25MP of resolution and has upgraded security features including a secure DSP and UI.

The RB2 also offers support for peripheral standards such as UFS2.1, GPIO and uart.

The platforms support current and emerging connectivity standards, including wired connections (USB 3.1 type C for interconnects, and EMMC v 5.1 and SD3.0 for storage) and wireless connectivity through wifi, LTE and 5G.

The platforms and development kits will be available to order from Thundercomm this month. Edge AI provider Kneron says its KL720 AI SoC supports the RB1 and RB2 platforms. Based in San Diego, Kneron is backed by the likes of Sequoia, Horizons Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures and Foxconn.

Qualcomm has also launched an IoT accelerator programme to propel the business success of IoT ecosystem partners engaged in transforming industries, business models and experiences. It unites embedded hardware designers, independent software vendors, independent hardware component vendors, system integrators and ODMs that are equipped to accelerate digital transformation based on the company’s technologies.

From retail to energy and utilities, to tracking and logistics, and robotics, the accelerator programme pairs the company’s technologies with an ecosystem of expertise to drive innovation and time to value.

Singh added: “Our latest innovations, including the new robotics platforms and upgraded IoT processors, alongside the new IoT accelerator programme, are designed to deliver greater support, expertise and access to robust technologies to an even broader range of builders and developers who play an important role in scaling intelligent edge devices.”