updated 07:30 pm EST, Fri December 16, 2011
Chips will leverage both US and Russian satellites
Qualcomm has planned to boost location detection of its mid-tier Snapdragon S2 and S3 mobile processors. Currently, the chips use the 24 satellite GPS network to get a fix on a device's location. It will soon be adding support for the 27-satellite GLONASS network Russia uses.
Smartphones today require a line-of-site fix from four satellites in order to determine the device's location. The satellites are spread out above the Earth and are constantly moving. Getting a signal from four, especially in urban areas, is complicated and often time consuming. By adding the 27 GLONASS satellites as reference nodes, site determination is quicker and more accurate. With the dual network, a phone's location can be found with an accuracy of within two meters (six feet, six inches).
A collateral benefit is extended battery life. The GLONASS service is only activated when the Snapdragon processor can't find a location using the default GPS satellites. This leads to faster detection with less power consumption.
Qualcomm's S2 and S3 series Snapdragon processors already support the dual satellite networks. The company's higher performance next generation processors, the S4 series, will be both GPS- and GLONASS-ready when they make their way into smartphones and other mobile devices early next year.
GLONASS is a Russian acronym for Globalnaya navigatsionnaya sputnikovaya sistema or Global Navigation Satellite System. The satellites are operated by the Russian Space Forces.