Qualcomm has launched a new series of SoCs (System on Chip) called the QCS400 series, dedicated to smart speakers, soundbars, AV receivers, and digital assistants. The new series of processors feature Qualcomm's AI Engine, improved voice recognition, high quality audio support in the form of Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and aptX, all in a single chip architecture. The company also detailed its new Smart Audio 400 platform, which is an end-to-end solutions platform designed to help manufacturers accelerate the development of smart speakers.
At the time of the announcement, Qualcomm has listed four SoCs as part of this new series. The QCS403 is designed for smart speakers and assistants and it will have a dual-core CPU and support up to 12 audio channels. The QCS404, on the other hand, features a quad-core CPU, specifically designed for smart speakers alone. Neither of these chips will have the AI Engine and that's present only in the QCS405 and QCS407 SoC, which are designed for soundbars and AV receivers respectively.
“These new SoCs raise the bar on both feature integration and power performance for smart audio compared to our previous technology,” said Rahul Patel, SVP and GM at Qualcomm.
Some of the highlights of the new QCS400 series include next-generation Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity with support for Bluetooth 5.1 and 802.11ax or Wi-Fi 6. It also supports Zigbee, a wireless protocol designed for small networks with low-powered radios. The top-end SoC will also be able to handle up to 32 channels of audio processing and support Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, Qualcomm DDFA amplifier technology and aptX Adaptive for low-latency streaming. The new chips are also said to improve upon far-field voice recognition, which theoretically would allow the smart speaker to be able to pick up voice commands from across the room even with music playing at high volume levels. There's also support for multi-keyword detection and multi-channel echo cancellation.
Other than performance, the new chips also promise better efficiency with support of up to 25x longer standby with voice wake-up and extended battery life compared to the previous technology.
Qualcomm also announced its new Smart Audio 400 platform which will help smart speaker manufactures develop products quicker, around the new QCS400 SoC. Manufactures will be able to get their hands on customisable development kit and sample product designs directly from Qualcomm, which should help save materials cost and development time.