Snapdragon 820A makes your car safer, smarter and more entertaining

Giving your car a super connected brain

Qualcomm unveiled a brand new automotive chip at CES 2016, which better brings together in-car entertainment and information systems, with a greater focus on safety.

The automotive grade Snapdragon 820A is the firm's new flagship chip, building on what Qualcomm admits were marginal features in its predecessor with a more fully formed offering this time around.

The Snapdragon 820A uses machine learning, cameras in the car, cloud access and computer based algorithms to offer a new level of safety, and providing drivers with more useful information than ever before.

Spreading the love

Features such as Bluetooth and always-on connectivity courtesy of 4G integration remain, as does navigation and multi-display support.

Another useful addition with the Snapdragon 820A is the ability for a car's infotainment system to be upgraded to the latest technology in terms of software and hardware, thanks to a modular design, similar to Nvidia's visual computing module used in the Tesla Model S.

It means auto makers can continually upgrade cars without completely building a new system. Theoretically, you'll be able to upgrade your car's technology like you upgrade your phone in the future, but in reality, don't expect the ability to easily upgrade your car's infotainment system with a module replacement.

The technology is expected to start filtering down into mid and low tier vehicles too, although due to the long development times in the automotive industry you won't see 820A enabled vehicles for 2-3 years. Qualcomm's 602a, announced at CES 2014, is finally shipping in 2017 model year Audi vehicles.

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Phones and Tablets Deputy Editor

John (Twitter, Google+) got his first phone aged 12 and since then he's been fixated on all things mobile, churning his way through a multitude of handsets, tablets and operating systems. Signalling his arrival at TechRadar by becoming a Guinness World Record holder in his first week (for the highest score on Super Mario Bros using a giant controller), John hasn't looked back since.