Qualcomm has detailed some of the features of its latest Hexagon 860 DSP (digital signal processor) at the ongoing Hot Chips conference. The new DSP will be integrated into the company’s upcoming Snapdragon 820 processor.
The Hexagon 860 DSP is a three-part system which offloads quite a number of tasks from the main processor core allowing it to power down and reduce power usage.
The first of the three-part system processes audio, voice, images, and video as well as process computer visions and other low-power computing tasks. This function of the DSP works with what Qualcomm calls its Hexagon Vector Extensions and Spectra Image Signal Processor (ISP) to enable algorithms to intelligently brighten dark areas of photos and videos and reduce power usage for image and video processing. Additionally, the main DSP function along with the two extensions will also improve virtual or augmented-reality device and application performance.
The second part of the Hexagon 860 DSP is a low power island which specifically handles the device’s sensors and other always-on systems such as those for voice recognition, sensor-assisted positioning, and more. This function will enable the DSP to offload a large number of work from the main CPU and significantly improve device battery life. This also encourages app developers to create apps that better utilize the device’s array of sensors and always-on features without worrying about eating too much power.
The third and last part is a basic modem DSP that handles, among other things, global LTE as well as multimode and carrier aggregation.
The capabilities of the new Hexagon 860 DSP are quite exciting and it would be interesting to see how device manufacturers that end up using Qualcomm’s upcoming Snapdragon 820 processor as well as application developers use the new DSP.