Device Differentiation — DSP Customization Comes to the Value Tier

Wednesday 2/25/15 11:08am
Posted By Steven Brightfield
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Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by
Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.

What could you do with 500MHz of spare DSP MIPS on a value-tier device? If you are like many OEMs we work with, you can build in new and unique features or incorporate power-saving capabilities that have been available only on high-end devices.

Developers have done a lot of DSP customization work to help OEMs differentiate in areas like audio, speech and imaging on top-tier Android devices because that's where the DSP was. But now that the Qualcomm® Hexagon™ DSP shipping in Snapdragon® chipsets designed for value-tier devices has plenty of extra DSP horsepower, developers have something new to offer those OEMs as well.

The Qualcomm Hexagon SDK helps mobile developers customize applications such as audio for the DSP

An Ecosystem For The Value Tier

I posted a few months ago about NXP Software, a company that ported speech processing and audio sensing to Hexagon, to run it much faster and with lower power consumption than on the CPU. NXP Software is among a growing number of developers who see a big opportunity in value-tier devices.

“NXP Software has found the simple to use, single download collection of software tools in the Hexagon SDK to be very helpful with DSP customizations. With the expansion of DSP support on additional Snapdragon processors, we look forward to further integration of our LifeVibes VoiceExperience and AudioSense products with these processors. The Qualcomm Developer Network truly helps developers access the efficient design of the Snapdragon processor.”
- Nicolas Sauvage, NXP Software Sr Director of Sales

As we begin shipping the Hexagon DSP on our Snapdragon 425, 618 and 620 processors, that opportunity is growing fast. Developers can offer OEMs the differentiation on value-tier devices that has been reserved for premium devices up to now.

Here are a few ecosystem members and the ways they’re helping OEMs like Samsung, OnePlus and OPPO offer differentiating technologies:

  • Audio processing for music playback – AM3D, Audyssey, Cirrus Logic, Dolby, DTS, ForteMedia, Harman-Kardon, Maxsound, Maxim, NXP Software, Yamaha, Waves
  • Camera – Almalence, Arcsoft, Athentech, Lytro, Omnivision, Pixart, SONY Sensors,
  • Computer Vision – Omron, Morpho
  • Sensors – AKM, ALPS, AMS, ADI, Avago Tech., Bosch, Capella, Epcos, Fairchild, Fingerprints Inc., Freescale, Intersil, Invensense, Kionix, LiteOn, Maxim, Memsic, uRATA, Partron, Rohm, PNI Sensor, Sensirion, Sensor Tek, Shindu Micro ST, TSC Corp Voltafield, ZDMI
  • Speech – Audience, Audyssey, Arkamys, Fortemedia, Imagination Technologies, Mighty Works, Nuance, NXP Software, Sensibol, Storacall, TIP Solutions, Transono

What Do Ecosystem Developers Get?

When I talk to developers about working in the Hexagon ecosystem, the first thing they want to know is what kind of support they can expect from us. That’s a perfectly good question, because a lot of programs don’t deliver much more than swapped logos on a website.

The first thing you get is the Hexagon SDK, which contains DSP libraries, technology domain APIs, sample apps and a Hexagon simulator you need to start customizing your application for the DSP, plus reams of documentation and references. Our own engineers spend time on customizations with developers to facilitate integration with devices. And, we’ve put in place a hardware ecosystem to provide development devices so you can test your customization on hardware before integration.

But the biggest potential opportunity is for ecosystem developers to shorten their development time. One of the reasons that there has been limited differentiation in the value tier up to now is that only a few of those OEMs can afford the schedule headaches of integrating a developer’s customization when they’re trying to ship a handset. And they typically cannot afford the high non-recurring engineering (NRE) costs of developing the customization themselves. Using the Hexagon SDK and its dynamically loadable objects, developers and OEMs can add DSP customization to device software as close to ship date as necessary — even after the device has shipped.

The SDK oils the gears between developers and manufacturers presenting an opportunity for integrations that used to take months to get right, now take a matter of days or weeks. It no longer feels like brain surgery to integrate 24-bit/192KHz music playback or computer vision to either a premium or a value-tier device.

For example, before we launched the SDK, a developer used our source code to customize its high-end audio codec for Hexagon, then spent six to eight months (and a lot of our engineering time) integrating it to one OEM’s new device. Later, the OEM switched to a different developer using the Hexagon SDK. Porting, integration and testing took a couple of weeks and almost no engineering support from us.

Next Steps

If you develop compelling technology for audio, camera, computer vision, sensors or speech, then contact us about the Hexagon SDK. If you’re developing another type of compelling technology and you think you can use DSP customization to differentiate devices powered by Snapdragon, find out more about the Hexagon DSP.

Meanwhile, find out more about customizing the Hexagon DSP on the Snapdragon 425, 618, and 620. It’s your entrée to helping your OEM customers differentiate their value-tier devices.