The Hexagon 680 provides an expanded suite of digital signal processing capabilities Qualcomm will apply to multiple jobs in its Snapdragon 820 mobile SoC.
Qualcomm has been the leader in building truly heterogeneous SoCs, which include a 64-bit CPU, a powerful GPU, dual ISPs, and a few DSPs, which Qualcomm brands as Hexagon. Other SoC builders have DSPs in their chip, but use them primarily for audio or modem functions. Qualcomm does that too, and also dedicates one to video and image processing.
DSPs use a wide word and are often referred to as very long instruction word (VLIW) devices. Some folks say the “L” really is “large.” VLIW devices can be run as a parallel SIMD processor and have been used as floating-point processors in graphics machines.
With the power of a VLIW device also comes a complex programming environment, although Texas Instruments and others have developed some very clever compliers to take some of the drudgery out of explicitly programming the processor. Qualcomm has such tools for its OEM customers, too.
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