With both Qualcomm and Texas Instruments (TI) now shipping out new dual-core processors to device makers, the first entries in a new generation of highly multimedia-capable smartphones and tablet PCs could be ready by early next year.
For starters, the dual-core chips will run faster than chips used in most phones and tablets, which tend to top out at around 1 GHz. They’ll start at 1.2 GHz and 1 and go up from there.
Although devices using the dual-core chips haven’t been announced by manufacturers, the new phones and tablets also look likely to take advantage of support in the new chipsets for 1080p video, for viewing of movies and television programs at full HDTV resolution over now emerging high-bandwidth 4G networks.
Other higher-end capabilities in the next generation of chips will include support for WXGA 1280-by-800 resolution displays, 3D graphics, and low-power audio and GPS, for conserving on system resolutions.
For managing processing over dual cores, chip manufacturers will use new power management strategies, such as technology for dynamically switching one core off while the other one works at full speed.
It wouldn’t be surprising if device makers time their first use of dual-core chips to coincide with new gadgets for the 4G LTE networks of AT&T and Verizon, which are also scheduled for rollout in 2011.
Qualcomm’s Dual-Core Processors
Qualcomm already released its first 1.2 GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor, the MSM8260/MSM8660, in the second quarter of this year, and even 1.5 GHz dual-core processor, the QSD8672, is expected to start sampling to manufacturers later in 2010.
As announced in June, Qualcomm’s MSM8660 and QSD8672 dual-core processors will run at up to 1.2 GHz and 1.5 GHz, respectively. Specifications for the MSM8660 also include a GPU with 3D/2D acceleration engines for Open GLES 2.0 and Open VG1.1 acceleration; 1080p video encode/decode, a dedicated low power audio engine; integrated low power GPS; and support for 24-bit WXGA 1280-by-800 resolution displays.
TI’s Dual-Core Processors
Texas Instruments is slated to ship the dual-core processor, the ARM-enabled OMAP4430 and OMAP4440, later in 2010.
These will be based on ARM’s Cortex-A9 processor design, the fastest Cortex architecture to reach implementation yet.
The OMAP4430 will run at 1 GHz with the OMAP4440 will be even faster.