One of the announcements Qualcomm made today as part of its CES 2018 event was the introduction of a new audio-focused SoC, the QCC5100. In fact, this is the first in what Qualcomm is referring to as the ‘QCC5100 series’ of SoCs and is specifically designed to improve the experience offered through wireless headphones, earbuds, headsets, and ‘hearables’ in general. Basically, anything Bluetooth supported and audio related, that goes in the ear.
The way this SoC series will look to achieve this is by improving the battery life - and by association the usage time - of these devices. One of the ways this has been made possible is due to the general efficiency of the SoCs, which Qualcomm states is (up to) 65-percent less power-demanding when streaming music or making voice calls compared to currently available solutions. In other words, it should be able to offer significantly longer levels (potentially up to 3x) of usage compared to what is on offer now. With this being a Qualcomm product, it also supports various other Qualcomm-related advanced audio features common to such devices, including Qualcomm TrueWireless Stereo and Qualcomm aptX HD audio, as well as more general and non-Qualcomm features, such as noise cancellation and voice assistants. In short, the QCC5100 series is designed to bring a low-power, high performing, and advanced feature-supported SoC solution to personal audio products. All of course, while maintaining an audio quality one might expect from a new and premium device.
As for when end users can expect products boasting this new series of SoCs to arrive, that is a little less clear at the moment. According to the comments made in Qualcomm's announcement, it seems the QCC5100 series has not been sampled out to manufacturers just yet. Instead, the company plans to make available to manufacturers “a number of example designs based on QCC5100 series” during the first half of this year. These “examples” will then be usable as reference designs for manufacturers to take inspiration from when designing and bringing to market their own solutions which can make best use of the SoCs attributes and smaller form factor. With this being a chip that supports a wide variety of audio-related devices, however, it will likely benefit users way beyond just the next set of wireless earbuds from Apple or Google.