Many of the recent Android devices are powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processor, which is capable of clock speeds up to 1 Ghz. This powerhouse of a chip can be found in the Google Nexus One, Droid Incredible, and the forthcoming HTC Evo 4G. Currently every Android-powered device runs on a single-core chip. In a move sure to mix-up the mobile market, Qualcomm recently announced its first dual-core Snapdragon chips, which will be capable of speeds up to 1.2 GHz.
While many would argue that a phone doesn’t need anything more than a single core (or even a single thread), one need only look to the current generation of multi-tasking smartphones (or “superphones” to use Google’s term). At any given time a person may be on a voice call while Twitter, Facebook, RSS feeds, and email are synchronizing in the background, each of these threads must run efficiently on a single-core device so the high-priority processes (the voice call, for instance) runs without hanging. Adding a second core to the mix greatly reduces this likelihood while increasing the overall device’s performance substantially.
The new chips, the MSM8260 (for HSPA+ networks) and MSM8660 (for multi-mode HSPA+/CDMA2000 1xEV-DO Rev. B networks) aren’t for your run-of-the-mill phones. These chips are destined for very high-end smartphones and more likely set-top boxes such as Google TV, tablet, slate, and netbook computers. They will boost web app and multi-media performance (Flash?). Additionally, they will open the door for 1080p video and include support for 24-bit WXGA 1280-by-800 resolution displays.
Qualcomm didn’t announce when their new dual-core chips would be available on the market, nor when we might start seeing them in production devices, but they shipped their first “sample” yesterday.
Not one to be left behind, Intel has dual-core Atom processors on their road-map as well.