Qualcomm Unveils 64-Bit Kyro-Based Snapdragon 820 And Zeroth Cognitive Compute Processors

Many of the higher end and flagship devices on tap for the coming weeks and months will sport Qualcomm's Snapdragon 810 processor inside, a 64-bit System-on-Chip (SoC) featuring quad-core ARM Cortex A57 and A53 CPUs. But what's potentially even more exciting is a cognitive platform Qualcomm is working on that will be supported by its forthcoming Snapdragon 820 processor.

More on that in a moment, but first a few details about the chip itself. Qualcomm's Snapdragon 820 is being designed on a leading edge FinFET process node, though the company didn't say if it's using TSMC's 16nm manufacturing process or Samsung's 14nm technology. It also didn't provide speeds or go into technical details, though we know it will be compatible with the ARMv8 instruction set. It will also be based on a new, custom 64-bit CPU core called "Kyro," which will leverage Qualcomm's aforementioned cognitive computing platform called "Zeroth."

Qualcomm Zeroth

Put simply, Zeroth represents Qualcomm's attempt to level up the mobile experience by making your smartphone truly smart, along with other mobile devices.

"Instead of gadgets that you use to help you conduct your daily business, a mobile device will mean something that learns and adapts in real time—even anticipating what you will want to do next," Qualcomm explains. "The foundation for these changes is Qualcomm Zeroth, our first cognitive capable platform, and your copilot for an increasingly connected world."


Qualcomm is developing a software platform that can tap into various components to streamline user interaction and become a more helpful companion that learns as it goes. For example, you might point your phone's camera at a street sign and Zeroth will tell you how much further your destination is, and if there are any shops along the way it thinks you might enjoy. Or it could translate a sign when you're traveling abroad.

Other functions are simply about reducing interactions. Instead of manually turning up the volume when you're riding on a train or in a car, your phone will detect such situations by the sound of the engines and raise the volume by itself.

"Our mobile devices already boast an amazing number and variety of high-quality sensors. Always-on awareness and other features like intelligent connectivity will enable next-generation mobile devices to take full advantage of Zeroth cognitive processing," Qualcomm adds.

It's like Siri on steroids, though there are obviously several hurdles to overcome. One is battery life -- the concept behind Zeroth is that the different components are always-on, including your phone's microphone, camera, and so forth. There's also a security and privacy concern there.

Hurdles aside, it will be interesting to see how well Zeroth works what creative things developers come up with.