On this episode of the Futurum Tech Webcast – Interview Series I am joined by Kedar Kondap, VP of Product Management at Qualcomm. Kedar leads the team that manages the entire Snapdragon handset business which is an incredibly exciting part of Qualcomm to be involved in right now. He also works on the gaming side of business and optimizes all games for Snapdragon devices. As Kedar put it, he has a pretty fun role at Qualcomm.
Our conversation covered several aspects of the Snapdragon 480 launch, the changes we can expect with 5G devices, and what we can expect in 2021. It was a fascinating conversation and one you don’t want to miss.
The Revolutionary Snapdragon 480
My conversation with Kedar also revolved around the following:
- The details of the Snapdragon 480 launch including how it will work globally.
- How OEMs are planning to use the Snapdragon 480 including when we might see some products hit the market.
- The driving force behind the Snapdragon 480 development and other 5G developments at Qualcomm.
- How the Snapdragon 480 will drive the development roadmap for Qualcomm in 2021.
In my opinion, the Snapdragon 480 and the Series 4 launch which I covered last week on The Six Five podcast with Qualcomm’s Alex Kartouzian are going to be huge for the advancement of 5G this year. 5G is going to impact all of us so this episode is one that needs to be on your ‘must listen’ list.
Grab the video of our conversation here:
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Read more analysis from Futurum Research:
Daniel Newman: Hey everybody. Daniel Newman here, Principal Analyst at Futurum Research. And, I’m excited about this episode of Futurum Tech TV, where I will be joined by Kedar Kondap of Qualcomm, vice president of product management, he’s going to join me now.
But, just as a little background yesterday, big announcement came out from Qualcomm, their new 4-series, I’m not going to steal his thunder. But, we’re going to be talking about a little bit of the innovation, and the future of connectivity and 5G, and some of the things the company are doing. So without further ado, I’m going to have Kedar join me here on the show. Kedar.
Kedar Kondap: Hey Daniel, how are you? Happy New Year.
Daniel Newman: Happy New Year. Welcome to Futurum Tech TV. Thanks for joining me.
Kedar Kondap: Thank you.
Daniel Newman: Second day back, we’re not wasting any time. Yesterday we had one of your colleagues, Alex Katouzian join myself and Pat Moorhead on my other podcast, my other show, other The Six Five. And, I’m super excited to have you here. So straight out the gate, no rest for the weary, we went straight into it, Kedar, and Qualcomm went straight into it as well.
And, I’m really excited to have you join here, and I want to talk about the new 4-series and the launch, but before I do that, I want to go ahead and do a better introduction than I did of you. So, why don’t you tell everybody out there on Futurum Tech TV a little bit about yourself, and your role at Qualcomm?
Kedar Kondap: Sounds good. Thanks for having me, pretty excited to be here. Obviously we’ve had a great New Year’s to start with. Just by way of introduction, I think I have the coolest job at Qualcomm. I get to define all the new cool Snapdragon products. So, I manage the Snapdragon entire handset business. So all of the products, the software, any of the cool software apps that you see on any Snapdragon devices. We get to work with all the ISVs.
What’s even cooler is, I get to work on gaming. So, partnerships with all of the game developers, the NetEngine guys, optimizing all the games on Snapdragon devices. And with that, I get to have a little fun on the business side with operations, and supply chain and all the good stuff. So, pretty fun role. I’m pretty excited about the role I have at Qualcomm.
Daniel Newman: Big job, big company, doing really interesting things, definitely a staple at Futurum Research of our various research notes, I just wrote a piece in MarketWatch today, talking a little bit about what you’re doing in the 4-series RF. These are all things that you’re focused on either directly or indirectly in your role, just because of all of the encompassing and complexities of 5G.
But, I don’t want to steal your thunder, I want to give you a chance to share. I hinted towards it in the beginning, big news, big launch, first day back from break for most of the Western world and other parts of the world. Matter of fact, you guys launched the new 480. Share a little bit about what that is, the Snapdragon 480 and some of the highlights.
Kedar Kondap: Sure, definitely. Obviously, we’ve been talking about 5G for a while. We’ve been talking about it for about three years now, at least. And, we introduced the first 5G product in Huawei last year, and it was the 865. And since then, we’ve had a whole bunch of products. We’ve had the 765, the 690. And, this is the first time we’re bringing 5G down to our 400 series. And, what basically the 480 does is, from a 5G perspective, at least it offers like a global proof 5G. So, it works pretty much globally, every carrier, every brand. And, from Qualcomm’s perspective where we excel is the whole modem to RF. So, we make sure that the whole thing is tested, works great. In fact, even some of the speed test, if you see some of the results that are generated, we are the fastest 5G in terms of modem speeds.
So, pretty excited about what we had to offer. With 480, we went beyond 5G. Obviously 5G solved the [marquee] that we all talk about, but it went beyond 5G. So, tons of stuff that we’ve packed in the 480, so it’s beyond… So for example, more than 70% of AI improvement. Or when it comes to, for example, CPU and GPU, we’ve got about a 100% improvement from the predecessor. So, lots of stuff that we packed in with the 480. Lastly, because we wanted to make sure that we’re driving scale, we’re driving 5G in all the tiers. And at the same time, we wanted to make sure we’re offering the best technology outside of even 5G for every consumer that’s out there.
Daniel Newman: Yeah, it was a really exciting launch. The first thing I said when I saw the news was really, “The company is democratizing 5G, and looking to bring it to the world.” The second thing I said is, “Oh boy, this is so packed with features that, what’s going to happen to the new 888?” And so, it was great, by the way, having Alex talk a little bit about that. And, I’m going to put his link, because I think between the two of you, there’s so much info here. And instead of having you repeat what he does, I want to hit you on a few other things, but that was the first thing we asked him like, “What happens now, because you’ve put so many features, and you’ve made a really complete offering?” It’s not a super stripped down 4-series.
Most users that aren’t power users may not even realize what they have, is a lower tier device. And, that’s a lot like what you’ve done with 7-series versus eight, but now it’s all the way down into the 4-series, which was a really big step and having 150, $200 devices that have 5G, and all of these features, and AI and capabilities, very impressive, which leads me to my next question. The OEMs have to be thrilled. Volume, opportunity, emerging markets. Talk a little bit about some of the plans of the OEMs, and what they’re going to do with this 480 at their disposal?
Kedar Kondap: Sure. So obviously, I’ll be as descriptive as I can be without revealing any OEMs.
Daniel Newman: Of course.
Kedar Kondap: But, I think a couple OEMs have been comfortable with us talking about their plan, so there’s OPPO, there’s OnePlus, there’s Vivo, I think then there’s HMD. So, there’s few OEMs that have been kind enough to let us talk about their plans. We’ve been working with a lot of other partners, so the list goes beyond just the few that I talked about.
Overall, I think you’ll see some pretty cool, innovative stuff that they’re going to launch with this device. For example, we’ve got triple camera, triple-ISP that we’ve integrated for the first time in the 400 series. So, I think there’s a lot of stuff that you’ll see these OEMs bring to market. And, from a timing perspective, to be honest, any launches are technically in Q1, but I would definitely keep my eyes and ears wide open, because I believe the launches are imminent, so it should be soon. So, early part of Q1.
Daniel Newman: Well, I’ve only said that 19, 20 and 21 will be the year of 5G. So, I figure as an analyst, if I keep making the guess for each coming year, I would be right. And in truth, for each of those years, there was a certain amount of right. Right? In terms of it becoming tested and tried, and then starting its commercialization. But, this really is the year of consumer scale. I think we’re going to see huge scale, new market entrance, more choice in devices. You’re going to start to see probably more phasing.
Anyway, I’m doing my analyst thing. I want to hear it from you though. Talk about what drove the development of this, of the 480 and the 4-series, and just pushing this. Because, this isn’t something that gets done in a short order, this has been in the roadmap for a while.
Kedar Kondap: Correct. So, Dan if you think about it, if you go back in time, maybe in like three to four years, and I think Alex alluded to some of that I think, when he talked to you, he was talking about how some of our premium tier development starts three years in advance. We talk about investing in technologies. We talk about how we’re scaling all of our IP’s, whether it’s CPU, its GPU, the gaming IPS, scaling them down all the way to our 4-series. Obviously the planning for that started several years ago. And, if you just think about 5G, we wanted to make sure that we’re driving 5G to scale as quickly as possible, and that went beyond just enabling it in the market. We worked with a lot of carriers. So for example, relative to 4G, 5G, there’s carriers that are ready to go. They’ve helped work with us, we’ve worked with carriers, we’ve scaled 5G, so the carriers are ready. We’re ready. Our OEMs and partners are ready.
And so, there’s been a lot of work that has gone into bringing a 480 to market for the last several years. Now, when you think about it, from my perspective beyond just 5G, I talked a little bit about some of these other capabilities that we have back in 480. But the last, I’d say 18 months, a lot has changed in terms of how we’re using mobile devices. Lot of consumers using tons of applications. Take one for example, like gaming, the usage on gaming has gone up tremendously, as we’ve all seen. People are at home for the last, about nine to 12 months. From what I hear, there’s like close to three billion people now playing game, that’s like a third of the world’s population.
I mean, look at the number of people just playing games. So, when you look at some of these things that drove 480, we took some of those use cases into account, right. So, it’s beyond just the CPU, beyond just the GPU. Let’s just spend a little bit more time on gaming. When you think of what drives gaming, and what drives a good gaming experience, you talk about having a good CPU, a good GPU. But beyond that, you want to make sure that you have really good audio quality, because you’re wearing a headset, you’re talking with your fellow gamers if you’re a professional gamer. Then, you want a very stable Wi-Fi connection. So, we made sure that we have, for example, the best Wi-Fi that’s out there in this particular series. Then for example, we made sure there’s echo cancellation, and noise suppression and things like that.
Then for example, we put in AI based some of these echo cancellations. So, not always is there a direct correlation with how people understand AI. And for the most part, we don’t even want consumers to understand the technology behind it. But, a lot of these subtle things that we put in like AI based echo cancellation, or noise suppression, there’s a lot of work that goes into it, right, in terms of making sure we’re planning all these different IPS and scaling technology. Then for example, camera. So, we look at what’s the most popular use case, obviously it’s camera, we’re clicking use cases. So, we packed in like a 64-megapixels snapshot camera.
Then if you look at what’s another use case, “Hey, I want to be able to…” “My phone needs to last a while, so I need good power.” So, we moved to a very good process technology. Then we said, “Hey, if my phone is discharged, how quickly can I charge my phone?” So we put in, for example, Quick Charge 4.0. We put in 120 Hertz displays. So think of it, as we looked at all these different use cases, we looked at the technologies that drive it, and then we’re very focused in how we were defining the 480, in making sure that it packs all the technologies and goes beyond just 5G, which obviously, like I said, is a very key marquee feature.
Daniel Newman: Yeah, absolutely. For the average everyday user, that experience, I always talk about. When we used to travel, it was what I referred to it, Kedar, as the airplane experience. It’s the, I’ve got five minutes before takeoff, and I needed to download a Netflix movie, so I could watch it in the sky without Wi-Fi. And, that was something really 4G and LTE couldn’t do.
But with 5G, that’s entirely possible, and that’s the task. But now, we’re not flying as much, we’re not out and traveling as much, so really it’s more like, I’m in my home and everybody’s tying up the Wi-Fi, can I get on my 5G and use my own network, secure, safe, connected, fast, game, AI built-in, you got just all of the things that you need to have a great experience packed right into one device.
And so, I love the fact that the company is democratizing it, making it available. One last question, got just a couple minutes left with you. Let’s talk about the roadmap. And, I know there’s limited amounts that you can share. Everybody, if not, this would be the coolest and most popular show on the planet if you started disclosing the future. But, in terms of what can be disclosed, what do you see in terms of the 480, and how it’s going to drive the mobile roadmap for the company, and really overall for the industry?
Kedar Kondap: Yeah. When you think about when 4G first came to market and first came to fruition in broad scale, nobody really predicted that… We had GPS, for example, in our phones for a while, and now just fast forward, 10 years later after where we’ve introduced 4G, you have all these ride sharing apps, you have all these apps. Like, one of the most popular apps right now, even when we’re sitting at home is ordering food. So, think of how we’re using GPS, think of how e-commerce folks like Amazon and Flipkart, and all these guys are using, telling you the precise location of your package, and when it’s getting delivered, and so on and so forth. So, when you look at 5G… Or by the way, even video for example, right, you talked about Netflix and being able to watch a video in the sky.
I feel like we’ve barely scratched the surface on 5G, and there’s a lot more, even when you look at gaming, we’re barely scratching the surface in terms of what we can do with gaming, and cloud gaming, and so on and so forth. So, without giving you a lot of information, there’s a lot of use cases we’re working on. We have a lot of partners that we’re working with actively. And, I think the good part of 480 is that it’s going to scale 5G, its going to offer the same experiences, obviously at a different scale, but to every consumer. We’re talking about more than three billion consumers now that can have access to 5G. So with 5G, it’ll drive a whole bunch of new use cases. And honestly, I’m pretty excited about it.
Daniel Newman: Yeah, and nearly half the world. And, as we’ve seen with each iteration of technology and each generation of mobile, the app ecosystem, cloud ecosystem, edge ecosystem, we didn’t even touch here on autonomous driving and vehicles, and the impact that’s going to have, smart cities. And thankfully, like I said, “If you listened to the podcast yesterday between your commentary here and Alex’s, we did touch on all of this.”
But, there’s a lot happening. And, the coolest thing about innovation in an innovation ecosystem like you have with so many of your partners and OEMs, and those that are indirectly tied in through infrastructure cloud, app and development, is sometimes the tech, we don’t even know. Because there’s people, you’re thinking about circuits, and you’re thinking about chips and systems, and there’s other people thinking about, “Well, what can I do with software, if we take latency times to X, right?”
It was, the people that actually dreamt that, “Hey, we can do seamless language translation, where people can just speak natively and not even have a flaw in their conversation, and 5G and next generation AI are going to make that kind of connectivity, connection, human interaction possible.” We make the world small in a lot of ways, and it’s super exciting. Nearly half the world’s population is going to be able to access 5G with the 4-series.
Kedar Kondap: Absolutely, absolutely. We’re aligned. We’re a 100% aligned.
Daniel Newman: Well Kedar, I want to thank you so much for joining me here today on Futurum Tech TV, quick segment, love having you here. Love hearing your insights. I’m sure we’ll have plenty of reasons to bring you back. I think 2021 is going to be a big year for semiconductors. I said it last year, I say it again, “Semiconductors will eat the world in a really good way.” They are making a difference every single day. So, check out the show notes below. Transcripts will give you insights where you can learn more about this conversation, but you can also get a link to the conversation we had yesterday with Alex Katouzian over on The Six Five Podcast. Hit that subscribe button, stick with us here on this YouTube channel. But, for this episode of Futurum Tech TV, for Kedar and myself, thanks for tuning in. We’ll see you later.