Qualcomm is ready to deliver mobile users a real gaming platform (interview)

VB: Do you feel like the consumer and game developers do have to get to know Qualcomm as a brand? I guess the model before you is Intel Inside … .

Talluri: We don’t worry too much about that. We don’t necessarily want them to get to know us for marketing’s sake. That’s interesting, but not important. What’s important is that since we make our own GPUs and make our own CPUs and design our own processors, we want developers to get to know us so that they can optimize their games to use everything we offer them, so that the experience for the end user is better.

The better the experience the end user has, the better the phones sell. The more chips we sell, the more games the game developers can sell if everything works out. That’s our goal, to make sure they know what they do and provide them access. That’s why one of my slides was “Access Is The Key.” It’s happening already. For example, if you go to Android Marketplace and you download a game onto any of the Snapdragon phones, they all run beautifully. Some of them, we never even talked to the developer. They just work.

VB: The capability that you’re providing here — are people taking advantage of it as fast as you would like? Does it happen naturally, or do you have to do a whole lot proactively to seed this community and make things happen? Like you could invest money into game developers or whatever. How much is already happening naturally?

Talluri: Quite a bit is happening naturally. There was a game, Need for Speed, that someone showed on their platform at CES. I asked my guys, “Hey, how does that run on our platform?” We downloaded it, and it works beautifully. We never even talked to the developer. What’s happening is that because we have such a large footprint, the developers are automatically making sure that their games run well on Snapdragon before they put them on the marketplace. If it doesn’t run on Snapdragon, it’s not going to run well on the majority of phones.

We have almost all of the high-end products, like Galaxy S3, Droid Nexus, Droid Maxx, or Nexus 4. Any developer working on Android usually does that. Anybody working on Windows automatically does that because we’re the only one offering Windows now. The new Blackberry uses us. Just by default, we’re getting a lot of that. But still, we like to make it easier, so that people can talk to us and work with us on our latest chipsets before the phones come out. When the phone comes out, they can take full advantage.

At CES, for example, we showed a couple of games from Gameloft — The Dark Knight and Asphalt 7. Those are two really high-end games. Both of them were running in full 1080p at 30 frames per second on our latest processor, taking advantage of quad-core. We worked with them to optimize that. Then we get all the optimizations back out, and now all of Gameloft’s games will use them. We also spend a lot of time with game engines, like Unity and Epic and so on. Once the engine is optimized, all the games on top of that will benefit.

VB: What does eight-core get you? If quad-core gets you 1080p …

Talluri: [Laughs] I don’t know if quad-core got us 1080p so much as the combination of the cores and the GPUs and the memory controllers and the video engines and the audio engines. It’s a whole system, the SOC. That’s how we look at cores. We launch them and we put in as many as needed to provide a real benefit. We haven’t talked about eight-core. We did say that the eight-core in Exynos was a little bit more marketing than real eight-core because you have four big ones and four small ones. They had to do that because the power on the four big ones was too high.

VB: Folks like Nvidia are taking interesting steps like creating their own game machine. One of these days, Intel may get so frustrated that they’ll make their own phones. What do you guys think of that?

Talluri: Competing with their customers would be a bad idea. Usually that doesn’t work out well. We try not to compete with our customers. We’re happy doing what we do, which is provide the processors to people who want to make phones.

VB: It’s interesting to see these new challenges that blend the console and the mobile device, like Ouya or Nvidia’s thing. I wonder how well this space is going to do. It’s bringing mobile to the TV.

Talluri: We’re seeing a lot of traction for people taking our Snapdragon processors and putting it inside the TV, or putting it in little boxes that sit next to the TV. There’ll be a whole bunch of those that you’ll see launching this year, kind of like the Ouya. A lot of people are doing that, but not just for games. They’ll play video and audio. They’ll run Android Marketplace and so on. It’s more like a smart TV or set-top box. Of course they’ll run games because a lot of the games on the marketplace are already optimized for our processor. But we’re looking at things like that rather than a dedicated gaming device.

VB: I had a look at some stats last week. They said that 95 percent of all content purchases on Android mobile devices in Korea are games. In the U.S., it’s 76 percent. I guess that’s why you guys care about this. [Laughs]

Talluri: You want to think about what people can do with your stuff, right? We care about what people use our processors to do.

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