Qualcomm kills Snapdragon 802

Qualcomm has surprised the industry by announcing that its new Snapdragon 802 System on a Chip is going to be canned.

The chip was only unveiled in early January at CES and was scheduled to begin sampling to partners in early 2014 and shipping later this year.

Yesterday a press release from Jon Carvill, Qualcomm’s Senior Director of Public Relations snuck onto the company web site announcing that the Snapdragon 802 has been canned.

“Qualcomm Technologies, has decided not to commercialise the recently announced Snapdragon 802 processor as the overall demand for processors uniquely designed for smart TVs has proven to be smaller than anticipated. This decision is specific to the Snapdragon 802 processor and does not affect other products we are currently shipping in this segment,” he wrote.

Qualcomm appears to have been blindsided by the failure of the smart TV market to take off, although pundits seem bemused as to why it even bothered taking it to CES in the first place.

The chip was similar to the Snapdragon 800 and Snapdragon 805 that Qualcomm sells for use in phones and tablets.

It had a 1.8GHz quad-core CPU based on Qualcomm’s Krait architecture, an Adreno 330 GPU with extensive support for 4K video, and integrated 802.11ac Wi-Fi.

A quad-core chip designed to push 4K content to your living room complete with multitasking support would have been a useful thing to have. It also took Qualcomm at least three years to develop.

Qualcomm cannot see an immediate use for the chip which depends on a better acceptance of 4K smart televisions, which are yet to take off. The rest of Qualcomm’s tablet and smartphone market does not need the 802.

If something unexpected happens on the Smart TV market then the 805, will be out in May to fill any gap that the 802 left.

Snapdragon 805 has new Krait CPU cores, new graphics processor, and a bunch of other enhancements that are geared towards encoding, decoding and streaming 4K resolution. It also has image processing improvements for phone cameras which will be handy for the phone or tablet.

However, if this was the case, the writing should have been on the wall long before 802 was shown off at CES. One piece of speculation might be that Qualcomm had a customer lined up already and decided to keep the chip running. With some big names in the television industry cutting back on their product lines it was likely that product was culled making the 802 surplus to requirements.