Qualcomm, like every other technology company on the face of the planet, hosts an annual event for press and partners. They call theirs “Uplinq”. This year the company is showing off the APQ8064, which is a quad core processor that’s basically a Snapdragon, minus the built-in cellular connectivity. Why is the APQ8064 important? Chances are it’s going to end up in a huge number of Windows RT tablets. What makes the chip special? It’s the first to feature Qualcomm’s new graphics processor, the Adreno 320. How fast is it? Jason Inofuentes from AnandTech is at the event, and while he wasn’t allowed to preform any benchmarks, he says it’s supposed to be about as fast as the GPU inside the NVIDIA Tegra 3. That’s great and all, but by the time the APQ8064 lands in products on store shelves, NVIDIA will be shipping a new chip with an even faster GPU. There’s also Imagination Technologies, the boys and girls responsible for the PowerVR series of graphic processors. Their new Series6 GPU, which promises to be leaps and bounds faster than what’s currently on the market, is supposed to land in 2013 hardware. Again, we don’t have benchmarks to quantify the speed increases.
Does all this mean Qualcomm is in trouble? Not really. Qualcomm does something that very few other companies even bother trying. They design their own application processors instead of licensing them from ARM. They design their own graphics processors instead of licensing them from ARM or Imagination. And most important they design their own wireless radios, which more often than not they slap onto their chips. Why do you think that damn near every 4G LTE enabled smarpthone in the United States has a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 inside? Do you really think that NVIDIA putting a faster GPU inside their products means anything to operators trying to increase the amount of money that their customers are paying them for data?