Qualcomm to ship fastest chip for phones, tablets in Q4

After delays, Qualcomm will start shipping its fastest Snapdragon dual-core chip for smartphones and tablets in the fourth quarter, with devices possibly launching by the end of this year, the company said on Monday.

The company will ship the dual-core QSD8672 chip with CPU cores running at up to 1.5GHz, said Mark Frankel, vice president of product management for Qualcomm CDMA Technologies. The chip could go into smartphones, tablets and low-cost laptops, he said.

Frankel pegged the launch date for devices with the new chip for early next year, adding that aggressive vendors could launch products "by Christmas" -- or the fourth quarter -- this year, Frankel said.

The chip is a follow-up to the dual-core MSM8660 Snapdragon chip, which started shipping in the second quarter. The 8672 has a faster processor than 8660, which includes CPU cores running at 1.2GHz. The processor in the 8672 chip is based on an Arm design and will be manufactured using the 45-nanometer process.

The chip is similar to the 8660 design with a raft of improvements compared to its previous single-core chips, Frankel said. That should bring better power management and performance to devices, Frankel said.

The 8672 chip has a feature called individual voltage scaling so each CPU can be clocked independently from the other. For example, when one CPU core is idle, the other will be able to operate at full speed, which can help better manage power consumption.

The chip also has 1080p video playback features, while previous single-core chips were limited to 720p video. The 8672 will also have "notebook-like interfaces" to it, Frankel said, including integrated HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface) and DDR2 and DDR3 memory interfaces.

Qualcomm originally announced Snapdragon in 2008, and the chip has been adopted by companies like Dell and Hewlett-Packard. Dell uses a Snapdragon processor in the Streak tablet, while HP puts it in the low-cost AirLife laptop. Lenovo adopted a Snapdragon chip for a low-cost laptop called Skylight, but the device was scrapped after the company decided to refocus its mobile product strategy.

Several HTC smartphones including the Evo, HD2 and Nexus One use Snapdragon processors, as does the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10.

Qualcomm's competitors include Texas Instruments, which on Monday said it would ship its OMAP4430 dual-core chip for smartphones and tablets by the end of this year.

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