At an event today in San Francisco, Qualcomm officially unveiled the long-rumored next entry in its latest wearable platform, the Snapdragon Wear 3100. This chipset makes a lot of big promises for the future of wearables, so let’s take a look at everything that’s new.
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New system architecture
For the Snapdragon Wear 3100, Qualcomm has built a new platform from the ground up that isn’t just a repurposed smartphone chipset. Qualcomm told us that, with this new chipset, they thought of how a smartwatch is different than a smartphone and built the 3100 based on that.
On the 3100, Qualcomm is using a primary quad-core processor which has a co-processor, the QC1110. This setup provides power for when you’re actively using the watch, but an ultra-low power core for reducing battery consumption while the watch is in standby. Qualcomm says that this co-processor uses 20x less power versus the standard chipset, and that leads to big battery life gains.
Battery life is getting better
Based on Wear OS, Qualcomm says a watch with a 3100 can last 1.5-2.5 days depending on battery capacity with reductions in power consumption reduced by as much as 49% with common tasks such as GPS or keyword detection. During a lower power mode, battery use is reduced by 67% versus the Snapdragon Wear 2100.
Impressively, Qualcomm says that this new chipset can also enable a new mode which delivers week-long battery life in a “Traditional Watch Mode.” Similar to Mobvoi’s Ticwatch Pro, this essentially turns off Wear OS features and just gives you a simple watch face with some basic information. This can last 30 days on a full charge, or finish off a week after using Wear OS at full functionality for about a day (based on 340 mAh battery).
New features for Wear OS
Thanks to this new chipset, there are some new features which will eventually arrive in Wear OS. One of those is an enhanced version of Ambient Mode. Currently, this feature can suck up a lot of power and is pretty limited in what it can and cannot show. On hardware based on the 3100, Ambient Mode will be able to show colors, complications, support adaptive brightness, and even a smooth second hand.
Qualcomm also says that a dedicated sports mode will be made possible with this chipset. In Wear OS, that would bring up to 15 hours of battery life while constantly using GPS and the heart rate sensor. On current hardware, that would kill the battery in less than half that time. Qualcomm says new hardware will be using this mode “soon.” As mentioned, a “Traditional Watch Mode” with extended, basic functionality battery life will also be available.
The Enhanced Ambient Mode helps the smartwatch to meet consumer desires for a fashion watch by supporting a smooth second hand, up to 16 colors, live complications and improved brightness. The Dedicated Sports Experiences is designed to allow active users to go for an ultra-marathon, swim long distances, bike for miles, or hike the mountains with GPS and heart rate turned on for the duration. The Traditional Watch Mode is designed to make it possible for consumers to continue to enjoy their beautiful watch for extended periods of time. Each one of these personalized experiences are supported by offloading the display and sensor processing from the A7 processors to the ultra-low power co-processor.
If you’re eager to get your hands on a new watch using the Snapdragon Wear 3100, you’ll be happy to know that Qualcomm already has partners lined up for this new chipset. Watches from Fossil Group, Louis Vuitton, and Montblanc are all coming soon with this chipset in tow, and we’ve got another post detailing that coming hardware.
It’s unclear who else will be launching Wear OS watches with the Snapdragon Wear 3100, but presumably, this is the chipset we’ll see powering the majority of Wear OS devices from this point forward. With the 2100, Qualcomm managed to power 80% of Wear OS watches, and many of those have refreshes on their way.
Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100 Platform Supports New Ultra-Low Power System Architecture for Next Generation Smartwatches
Helps to accelerate Fashion and Technology Convergence working closely with Google; Powers new products from Fossil Group, Louis Vuitton, and Montblanc
SAN FRANCISCO – September 10, 2018 – Today, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, launched the next generation Qualcomm® Snapdragon WearTM 3100 Platform for smartwatches. The platform is based on a new ultra-low power system architecture designed to deliver a rich interactive mode, new personalized experiences, and extended battery life. The official launch, at an event in San Francisco, was supported by Google, who discussed the evolution of the Wear OS by Google software platform. The launch also included the announcement of the first Snapdragon Wear 3100 customers.
Snapdragon Wear 3100 Platform Redefines the System Architecture
Snapdragon Wear 3100 is based on a new ultra-low power hierarchical system architecture approach. In this architecture, the high-performance quad core A7 processors, the highly efficient integrated DSP, and a new ultra-low power co-processor work in conjunction with each other to help customers re-imagine new smartwatch experiences while supporting extended battery life. The new capabilities are designed to allow consumers to enjoy the beauty of a fashion watch with the power of a smartwatch, the battery life of a sports watch with the richness of a smartwatch, and the utility of an analog watch with the flexibility of a smartwatch.
“Qualcomm Technologies has played a critical role in the evolution of the smartwatch segment and our customers are currently shipping more than 100 Wear OS by Google smartwatches with 25 brands globally based on our existing platforms,” said Anthony Murray, senior vice president and general manager, wearables, Qualcomm Technologies International, Ltd. “With the Snapdragon Wear 3100 Platform, we envisioned a new ultra-low power system architecture and in collaboration with the latest from the Wear OS by Google team, to help deliver a rich interactive mode, bring in new personalized experiences and support extended battery life for tomorrow’s smartwatches. We are delighted to announce Fossil Group, Louis Vuitton, and Montblanc as our first Snapdragon Wear 3100 customers.”
The new co-processor, the Qualcomm® QCC1110, has been designed from the ground up and is at the heart of the Snapdragon Wear 3100 platform. It is incredibly small at ~21mm2, is optimized for ultra-low power operation, and acts as a powerful companion to the main processor, re-defining audio, display, and sensor experiences for next generation smartwatches. The co-processor also integrates a deep learning engine for custom workloads, such as keyword detection, and is extensible over time.
Additionally, the Snapdragon Wear 3100 platform includes a new wearable power management sub-system (PMW3100) to support lower power and higher integration, brings in a new DSP framework to support next generation sensor processing in an open execution environment, and implements a new dual display architecture to support the hierarchical approach. The 4G LTE modem, proven in mobile applications, and which has already shipped over one billion units, is paired with new high-performance Gallium Arsenide power amplifiers, which helps to increase power efficiency in smartwatches.
Snapdragon Wear 3100 Based Smartwatches Aim to Enrich the User Experience
The Snapdragon Wear 3100 platform, in conjunction with the latest from Wear OS by Google, is designed to deliver a rich interactive mode, new personalized experiences, and support for extended battery life.
Rich Interactive Mode
Snapdragon Wear 3100 platform serves as a strong, proven foundation for rich interactions by helping to deliver high performance, superior connectivity, smart sensing, and compelling features. Qualcomm Technologies is collaborating closely with the Wear OS by Google team to utilize and enhance the capabilities of the Snapdragon Wear 3100 platform and support increasingly rich, fluid experiences designed for the wrist.
“Together with Qualcomm Technologies and the ecosystem, Wear OS by Google has enabled a vibrant set of wearable devices, offering consumers with great choice and diversity,” said Dennis Troper, director of product management, Wear OS by Google.
“We’re excited to see Qualcomm Technologies’ new Snapdragon Wear 3100, their continued investment in the wearable space, and we look forward to the ecosystem bringing the next generation of smartwatch technology to the industry.”
New Personalized Experiences
Snapdragon Wear 3100 platform, based on the new ultra-low power system architecture, is being used to help bring new personalized experiences to next generation Wear OS by Google based smartwatches. Three such personalized experiences include the Enhanced Ambient Mode, Dedicated Sports Experiences, and Traditional Watch Mode. The Enhanced Ambient Mode helps the smartwatch to meet consumer desires for a fashion watch by supporting a smooth second hand, up to 16 colors, live complications and improved brightness. The Dedicated Sports Experiences is designed to allow active users to go for an ultra-marathon, swim long distances, bike for miles, or hike the mountains with GPS and heart rate turned on for the duration. The Traditional Watch Mode is designed to make it possible for consumers to continue to enjoy their beautiful watch for extended periods of time. Each one of these personalized experiences are supported by offloading the display and sensor processing from the A7 processors to the ultra-low power co-processor.
Support for Extended Battery Life
Snapdragon Wear 3100 Platform is designed to help reduce power usage and bring increased flexibility for consumers to experience the benefits of extended battery life. The new platform is designed to help reduce power usage in areas such as low power modes, GPS/location batching, per minute/second clock updates, sensors processing, MP3 playback, and Wi-Fi/Bluetooth voice queries. This results in typical battery life day of use improvements ranging from 4 to 12 hours compared to the previous Snapdragon Wear 2100 platform, depending on display type, battery capacity, and device configurations. The new Personalized Sports Experiences keep GPS and heart rate monitoring on for the duration of the activities and is designed to deliver up to 15 hours battery life (calculated based on typical 450mAh sports watch battery). The Traditional Watch Mode, great for travelling, supports an impressive week-long battery life to the smartwatch by switching to this mode from the Wear OS by Google experience and is designed to allow consumers to enjoy basic watch functions for an extended period.
Working Together to Extend the Benefits of the Platform
Fossil Group, Louis Vuitton, and Montblanc were announced as the first customers to launch products based on the Snapdragon Wear 3100 platform. These companies are working to bring beautiful smartwatches for a diverse set of consumers including lifestyle sports users, fashionable travelers, and those seeking a high-end luxury smart timepiece.
“Qualcomm Technologies brings Fossil Group the latest technology that helps connect products into the lifestyle of our consumers, and this latest chip is no exception,” said Steve Evans, executive vice president, Fossil Group. “Our collaboration enables our constant reinvention of the smartwatch. As technology is enhanced, so are the product innovations and designs that we are able to offer our customers.”
“Louis Vuitton has long been known for combining tradition and modernity in the luxury world,” said Eric Pradon, senior vice president of finance and administration at Louis Vuitton Malletier. “With the Louis Vuitton Tambour Horizon smartwatch, we collaborated with Google and Qualcomm Technologies to combine our exquisite design and watchmaking know-how with the best of technology, in order to delight our customers. We are excited about the new possibilities that Snapdragon Wear 3100 brings to our customers and are working with Qualcomm Technologies to bring another beautiful smartwatch to the industry.”
“Built for travel, fitness or exploration, Summit 2 is a versatile companion created for urban explorers, business travelers and performance seekers looking to push boundaries in everything they do,” explains Nicolas Baretzki, Montblanc CEO. “Designed for both men and women, Summit 2 perfectly bridges fine watchmaking and state-of-the art technology. This watch is built to seamlessly power them through their everyday adventures stylishly and reliably.”
The Snapdragon Wear 3100 platform comes in three variants targeting Bluetooth and Wi-Fi tethered smartwatches, GPS-based tethered smartwatches, and 4G LTE connected smartwatches. The platform is in mass production and shipping today.