If the most recent batch of S4 chips from Qualcomm wasn't enough to completely satiate your thirst for new SoC's, the folks from San Diego are adding two more options to the already heapin' pile. At the 2011 Uplinq China Conference in Shenzhen, Qualcomm announced the MSM8625 and MSM8225 S4-class dual-core chipsets, both of which can clock up to 1GHz and pack an Adreno 203 GPU plus a 3G modem. While these numbers aren't relatively exciting at this day and age, the real selling point here is that these chips are actually software and hardware-compatible with the entry-level MSM7x27A and MSM7x25A S1 chips, meaning some of the existing S1-based designs can be quickly and easily adapted to these new S4 chips. Interested manufacturers can nab some of this new silicon from the third-generation Qualcomm Reference Design (QRD) program -- which was also announced today as Qualcomm enters the smartphone reference design business -- or standalone in the first half of 2012, but let's just hope we won't end up seeing too many familiar-looking phones. Press release attached after the break.

Zach Lutz contributed to this report.

Update: We just did a hands-on with one of Qualcomm's new reference designs -- the one we played with had Dianxin OS installed, but we also came across one powered by Aliyun OS. Neither were running smoothly but we've been told they were slightly rushed so we'll give them the benefit of the doubt. Anyhow, enjoy the photos.
Gallery | 11 Photos

Qualcomm Reference Design "QRD 1.5"


Gallery | 7 Photos

Qualcomm Reference Design ecosystem presentation

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Qualcomm Brings Snapdragon S4 Processors to High Volume Smartphones and Expands Qualcomm Reference Design Development Platform and Ecosystem Program

- Addition of Two New Snapdragon S4 Mobile Processors Compatible with QRD Development Platforms Brings Dual-Core Processing and Integrated 3G Connectivity to High Volume Smartphones -

SAN DIEGO, Dec. 8, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM) today announced two additions to its Snapdragon® S4 class of mobile processors: the MSM8625 and the MSM8225 chipsets. Both chipsets provide dual core CPUs operating up to 1 GHz, Qualcomm's Adreno® 203 GPU and an integrated 3G modem. The MSM8625 and MSM8225 chipsets are designed to be hardware and software compatible with the MSM7x27A and MSM7x25A family of chipsets, giving device manufacturers the ability to seamlessly migrate their existing Snapdragon S1-based designs to S4 dual core-based designs. This capability is particularly useful for device manufacturers to efficiently expand their smartphone product lines with more advanced and more capable 3G smartphone products.

To further simplify and improve time-to-launch of cost effective 3G solutions for device manufacturers, Qualcomm also announced the third-generation of its Qualcomm Reference Design (QRD) ecosystem program to enable third party device manufacturers to develop differentiated high volume smartphones with lower development costs and faster time to market. The QRD ecosystem program includes a comprehensive set of software and hardware components that allows third party hardware and software vendors to have their products pre-tested and optimized for the QRD development platform. A pre-tested and optimized platform gives device manufacturers a development platform with the hardware components (memory, sensors, touch panels, cameras, displays, RF, etc.) and software applications and features (browsers, map/navigation, mail, music, instant messaging, fonts and languages, etc.) needed for basic smartphone functionality already in place. This allows device manufacturers to focus their engineering resources on developing value-added features that will help make their high-volume smartphone stand out from the competition. The QRD ecosystem program is designed to help device manufacturers developing products for regions whose networks are evolving from 2G to 3G and high volume smartphones are becoming increasingly popular.

The MSM8625 and MSM8225 chipsets will be available on Qualcomm's third generation QRD development platform in the first half of 2012, in addition to being available as standalone chipsets. QRD development platforms based on both the MSM7x27A and MSM7x25A chipsets are currently available. Qualcomm has shipped over 100 million MSM7225 and MSM7227 chipsets, and smartphones based on these chipsets are operating on multiple carrier networks worldwide.

"Smartphones present a large business opportunity for many of our customers, which is why we have created the QRD ecosystem program to assist them with developing compelling product designs with competitive differentiation," said Cristiano Amon, senior vice president of product management at Qualcomm. "The program combines all the elements our customers need to get a new smartphone design to launch quickly and cost effectively, from carrier-ready hardware and software to local technical support resources."

"As Snapdragon processors power many of today's most popular smartphones, we are working to port a variety of our core applications to the various QRD platforms," said Chengmin Liu, senior executive vice president of Tencent, China's largest integrated internet services provider. "This will offer our customers a strong processing solution to power our applications for future smartphone designs."