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

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

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.

John McCann
Global Managing Editor

John joined TechRadar over a decade ago as Staff Writer for Phones, and over the years has built up a vast knowledge of the tech industry. He's interviewed CEOs from some of the world's biggest tech firms, visited their HQs and has appeared on live TV and radio, including Sky News, BBC News, BBC World News, Al Jazeera, LBC and BBC Radio 4. Originally specializing in phones, tablets and wearables, John is now TechRadar's resident automotive expert, reviewing the latest and greatest EVs and PHEVs on the market. John also looks after the day-to-day running of the site.