WearOS – The Next Generation Sports Watches Start Now – What? Really?

Qualcomm today announce the Snapdragon Wear 3100 Platform.

Source: qualcomm.com

Who? What? Why do I care?

Polar M600 android Wear reviewYou’ve probably never heard of Qualcomm or at least never knew what they did. They do a lot of things, one of which is providing the processing power behind the current crop of WearOS watches – both WearOS sports watches and others.

All the current crop of WearOS watches are somewhat limited. Don’t get me wrong some are great, like the Polar M600 for sport and the LG Watch too. But they are limited and one of the biggest limitations is battery life.

Non-WearOS, sports watches have some leeway to just throw a larger battery at their solution. A larger battery should last longer. For a smartwatch with the need for a certain aesthetic appeal that is not the solution – think of the relatively dainty Apple Watch.

Even Suunto moved to one of the Ultra low power Sony GNSS/GPS chip recently, which I presume is mostly to save the battery and enable a working battery life to meet the needs of many Ultra runners. I strongly suspect (aka “I know for sure”) that others are following Suunto’s lead with Sony in the sports realm.

But a chip like the one from Sony is just a small part of the overall electronics package.

It looks like Qualcomm will be powering the next generation of WearOS watches of all types.

What Qualcomm is offering for the next generation of WearOS watches seems clever on the surface. Clever because it has to appeal to different types of WearOS watch manufacturer

So there are 3 modes: Sports Mode (GPS+oHR for up to 15 hours); Watch Mode (a timekeeper for up to a week); and Enhanced Ambient Mode which is for fashion watches where colours and brightness are in need. The last mode will probably be renamed battery-eating mode, but that’s another story for another day.

The platform is available as three variants targeting: Bluetooth and Wi-Fi tethered smartwatches; GPS-based tethered smartwatches; and 4G LTE connected smartwatches.

Again the interest here for sports watches comes with the 4G LTE side of things where many more sports-related features will just be made so much easier with onboard access to the internet via a cellular connection. This will also probably be known as the OTHER battery-eating mode. We shall see.

These are being produced and shipped NOW. So the new crop of WearOS watches are imminent. ie Don’t buy one yet, don’t buy one of the ones released before September 2018.

Also see: https://www.qualcomm.com/products/snapdragon-wear-3100-platform.

Specifications

I’ll include the specs for those of you interested in th eGPS side of things.

 

PROCESSORMSM8909w or

APQ8009w

CELLULAR MODEMQualcomm® Snapdragon™ X5 LTE modem
  • Peak Download Speed: 1 Gbps
  • Peak Upload Speed: 150 Mbps
CPUQuad ARM Cortex A7
  • CPU Clock Speed: Up to 1.2 GHz
GPUQualcomm® Adreno™ 304 GPU
CO-PROCESSORQCC1110
SECURITY SUPPORT
  • Qualcomm® Processor Security
DISPLAYQualcomm® Adreno™ 304 GPU
  • Up to 640×480 at 60fps, optimized for wearables
  • MIPI and SPI support
WI-FIWCN3620Low Power Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, optimized for wearables
AUDIO
RFWTR2965

QPA4630/QSW8573/QET4101

  • Qualcomm® RF front-end solution (RFFE)
  • RFFE with GaAs PAs
PMICPWM3100
NFCNQ330

NQ330

Next generation NFC from NXP
LOCATION
  • Gen 8C Satellite: GPS, Glonass, Beidou, Galileo
  • Terrestrial: Wi-Fi, Cellular
OPERATING SYSTEMWear OS

Event-Driven RTOS

 

 

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Mirko Surf&Run
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Mirko Surf&Run

It seems that the gps is single frequency, because if it was dual frequency they would make big claims.
I’m curious to see if they can use simultaneously all the 4 satellite constellations (gps, galileo, beidou and glonass) or if the user must choose a maximum of two constellations, and to see how the terrestrial signals (cellular and wifi) will help gps.
Do you know when will appear the first WearOS smartwatches with this new Qualcomm platform? This year or next year?
They are also using the 28 nanometers production process for the chipset, like Broadcom with the BCM47755. Let’s see if Mediatek is following…

James @ MightyGagdet
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Montblanc Summit 2 is due out next month. In the press slides, they sent out they hinted that the sports mode feature will be rolled out with a future sports brands. When or who that is who knows.

Dave
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Dave

There isn’t as much new here as the marketing may suggest. Processor throttling is nothing new and older chips have had this for decades. Smaller manufacturing process is more of a gain for battery these days as we’ve hit the limits of what throttling can do to help. This one is trickier to gauge because the same ARM chip may be available in a 7nm process and a 13nm process, with the latter drawing far more power for the same result (although likely cheaper, since the fab will charge a premium for new processes).

Mirko Surf&Run
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Mirko Surf&Run

Maybe the new 28 nanometer production process is responsible also of the long battery life of the Suunto9.
Should we expect the new 28 nm production process also for the other watches, and so long battery life also for the “soon to be released” Polar Vantage and for the “hopefully to be released in 2019” Garmin Fenix?

Dave Lusty
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Dave Lusty

Intel had 22nm in 2011 so don’t think of 28nm as new, it’s very, very, very old in chip fab terms. In other words, it’s likely that we could make a watch with 100 hour battery today quite easily. You’re on the upgrade treadmill and it has years of life in it yet. Every two years you’ll see a “new” processor with “better battery life”. With current technology available today that can last for over 10 years of “upgrades” compared to this 28nm part. 22, 14, 10 and 7nm are available now with 5nm planned by 2020. A good example is the lack of memory in the Fenix 5 – the primary reason the 5 Plus was an upgrade. We all knew that the Fenix 5 should have had more when it was released based on current tech at the time. Never trust a company with good sales volumes to innovate.

Mirko Surf&Run
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Mirko Surf&Run

I mean Garmin Fenix 6

Mirko Surf&Run
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Mirko Surf&Run

Interesting, so the future is around the corner.
They could in two or three years produce the GNSS (GPS) chipset with a 7 or 13 nanometers production process instead of the 28 nanometers they are now beginning to use.
The GNSS (gps) chipset could be MORE powerful with the same power consumption.
Maybe when Galileo will be ready by 2020 with the E6 frequency and his free PPP service with 20 cm accuracy (if it will be free without commercial fee), there is a possibility that PPP (Precise Point Positioning) or RTK enabled gps receiver will be available also for wearables and sport watches?
Yes, I know the5krunner, that for instant pace Stryd it’s easier and there is no need of PPP for sport watches 😉

Mirko Surf&Run
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Mirko Surf&Run

https://www.eetimes.com/document.asp?authorpage=0&authorpage=0&authorpage=0&authorpage=0&authorpage=0&authorpage=0&isAjax=true&isAjax=true&isAjax=true&isAjax=true&isAjax=true&isAjax=true&doc_id=1325498&_=1536930999738&piddl_msgpage=1#msgs Title of article “Sony Joins FDSOI Club” of Junko Yoshida date 1/30/2015 Interesting article, especially the comments, where they explain that the new Sony GNSS chipset present in the new Suunto 9 and the new Polar Vantage is 28 nm but uses a process technology called FDSOI (Fully Depleted Silicon on Insulator), that is different than the process used by Intel (FinFET). In the comments we can read that FDSOI is particularly good for low power (and wearables) because can deliver 0,6 V, while FinFET can’t give this low voltage. There are a lot of comments and the users didn’t agree, but it seems that the advantage of FinFET is that it’s easy to produce also in 22 and 14 nm (Intel is doing it). The advantage of FDSOI is the low power and the low voltage, but it seems very difficult to go under 28nm, one user claims that it’s impossible to go under, other users don’t agree. So maybe we can’t really compare just with nanometers FDSOI and FinFET, because are different technology. In this article about Qualcomm Wearos 3100 https://linustechtips.com/main/topic/970558-qualcomm-announces-new-snapdragon-wear-3100-for-wear-os-by-google/ they write that 1- about the main processor: “So from these two quotes we know that… Read more »

Mirko Surf&Run
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Mirko Surf&Run

In the first article, the user AKH0 wrote that also with the FDSI technology, that is particularly good for low power devices, it is possible to go under 28nm: “There is in fact interest from several fabless companies for a 22nm or 14nm FDSOI technology. 14nm prototype chips are in the line”