While 2011 promises to be the year of the dual-core smartphone, even more powerful hardware is on the horizon. Nvidia is likely working on bumping up the core-count for the Tegra 3 or 4, and now we’ve heard that Freescale is planning its own multi-core offerings, with the i.MX 6 series of processors supporting up to four CPU cores.
The i.MX 6 will be available with one, two, or four ARM Cortex A9 cores. Each of those can run at clock speeds as high as 1.2GHz. Combine that with a level 2 cache as large as 1MB, and you can expect some blistering levels of performance.
You can’t talk about smartphone processing power without fielding a few questions of the “just why would you need all that anyway?” variety. Freescale has a few ideas of what the i.MX 6 could be good for, including encoding full 1080p HD video in real-time. On the flip side, decoding HD video becomes easier than ever.
Leveraging this kind of hardware overkill, Freescale claims that the i.MX 6 can still deliver decent performance even when running in power-saving mode; though Freescale doesn’t specify the battery capacity for its estimation, it claims that an i.MX 6-based system should be capable of playing 1080p content for 24 hours straight, on one charge.
The first i.MX 6 chips will be available for hardware manufacturers to start working with later in 2011, so you likely won’t see any commercial products built around the multi-core design until 2012 at the earliest.