Devices Hardware News, apple, Nvidia, quad-core processiong, qualcoom, Samsung Galaxy S3, smartphones, snapdragon — December 12, 2012 19:18 — 0 Comments
Quad-core: new generation of processors powering smartphones
Powerful new chips for mobile devices on the way that will will increase retina displays without draining battery life
US chipmaker Qualcomm is preparing two new quad-core processors to its Snapdragon line that will support features on even basic smartphones such as 1080p high-definition video capture and playback and support for cameras with up to 13mp resolution that are now pretty much standard in higher-end devices.
Qualcomm said it will release the two new CPUs, next year with prototypes available for manufacturers available in the summer.
Quad-core processors are currently used in mainly top-end smartphones including Samsung’s Galaxy S3 (latest iPhones feature a custom A6 chip). But as manufacturing costs come down, the super-fast quads will be soon available to budget models.
The company said the chips are optimized for long battery life but can still deliver advanced graphics.
And for now quads seems to be the limit for smartphones. Not so long ago a 1-gigahertz processor was the benchmark for mobile devices, then came dual-cores, doubling up to four is about as much as today’s smartphones can handle without increasing battery size, and therefore the size of the device. Anyway, few applications and tasks on a smartphone or tablet can take advantage of multiple cores and actually get a benefit, writes cnet.com’s Roger Cheng.
Future Snapdragon chips will not only have the central CPU cores, but also specialised ‘blocks’ that reduce the strain on the main cores and handle specific tasks such as managing the camera lens or controlling the sensors, said Raj Talluri, vice president of product management for Qualcomm’s CDMA technologies unit.
Another chip manufacturer, Nvidia, is already rumoured to be developing a fifth ‘stealth’ core that helps to save battery life.
“We want to make sure that you don’t have to charge the phone every day, even if you have that flagship smartphone with the big camera, Wi-Fi, big display, and navigation,” Talluri said.
“The industry is already starting to move towards better, higher resolution displays. One of the new buzzwords is PPI, or pixels per inch. Apple started the trend by focusing on the high PPI found in the iPhone’s ‘Retina Display,’ and other manufacturers have started to stress the amount of pixels packed into their display. The Droid DNA has 440 PPI, compared with the Retina Display’s 326 PPI,” says Cheng.
More pixels, of course, means a requirement for a stronger processor to render those visuals, which is why Qualcomm, Nvidia, and other manufacturers such as MediaTek with its Jelly Bean processors, are racing to find a solution without necessarily moving beyond quad-cores in mobiles.
What is certain is that mobile devices in the future will include better camera capture and editing capabilities for photos – and shooting and editing video will be much easier and faster than before.
“The odds are high that the chip companies will succeed in changing the conversation. Tech trends change rapidly, and today’s dominant player can be tomorrow’s also-ran. Qualcomm, for instance, is the leader in the industry by far with its Snapdragon line of processors, but challengers such as Nvidia have managed to win a place in several high-profile mobile devices,” says Cheng.