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Processor Wars - Future of Smartphone

|November 15 2010 |Industry News, Smart Phones, Technology, Mobile Processors


The advancement of smartphones hinges on the evolution of processors (CPUs), display technologies, storage and batteries. The biggest influence of them all is the processor for the simple reason that it is the sole enabler for the seamless experience possible in smartphones. Processors are improving on various factors such as performance, power consumption, smaller size and heat generation.

Three Processors that are announced but yet to be released show wealth of potential. When available mainstream, these processors will influence a new breed of smartphones to be available to end-consumers; Smartphones that can be compact and do powerful things with minimum power consumption. The three processors we are talking about are Intel's Atom processor Z6xx Series Family, ARM Cortext - A9 and ARM Cortex - A115 Multicore processor.

ARM Cortext - A9 is a multi-core enabler and can support upto 4 cpus. In plain language, ARM A9 will provide better multi-tasking capablities, supports data intensive multimedia applications, supports full HD Video playback and can support high speed 3D Games. A9 can support 30fps video playback and recording at full HD of 1080p resolution. GPS baseband processors are embedded into these processors, so location based services will be much more seamless and better. Another highlight is the triple display controller which can facilitate multiple display environment. So a smartphone that can have two screen displays and offering a external display capability that can be projected to TV or projector is a good possibility.

If ARM Cortext A9 makes you feel better...hold on! ARM has announced the next generation of ARM 9 called ARM Cortex-A15 MPCore processor. These processors will deliver over five times the performance of today’s advanced smartphones (better than A9). In advanced infrastructure applications, the Cortex-A15 running at up to 2.5GHz will enable highly scalable solutions within constantly shrinking energy, thermal and cost budgets.

When ARM is innovating at this pace, how can Intel keep quite. They too have come up an announcement. Intel's new Atom™ processor Z6xx Series Family chips deliver will significantly lower power including >50x reduction in idle power, >20x reduction in audio power, and 2-3x reductions across browsing and video scenarios. These power savings translate into >10 days of standby, up to 2 days of audio playback and 4-5 hours of browsing and video battery life3. When combined with 1.5-3x higher compute performance, 2-4x richer graphics, >4x higher JavaScript performance, and support for full HD 1080p high-profile video decoding and 720p HD video recording, these low-power innovations bring a rich, PC-like visual experience to powerful handheld computers.

intel-moorestown

All the above three processors are not yet available in the market. But there are rumours of smartphones that would be based on these processors. 2011 and beyond will make the smartphones of today to feel like so out-dated!

In their own words:
The ARM Cortex™-A series of applications processors provide an entire range of solutions for devices hosting a rich OS platform and user applications ranging from ultra-low-cost handset through smartphones, mobile computing platforms, digital TV and set-top boxes through enterprise networking, printers and server solutions. The high-performance Cortex-A15, the scalable Cortex-A9, the market-proven Cortex-A8 processor, and the high-efficiency Cortex-A5 processors all share the same architecture and therefore full application compatibility, that includes support for the traditional ARM, Thumb® instruction set and new high performance and compact Thumb-2 instruction set.

Based on Intel's leading silicon technology and manufacturing capabilities, chips deliver >50x platform idle power reduction while increasing performance and reducing size. Platform brings unlimited "PC-like" experience with fast Internet, multi-tasking, full 1080p video, 3-D graphics, multi-point videoconferencing and voice in pocketable designs. New Intel® Atom™ processor Z6xx based on Intel's new 45nm2 low-power process, packs 140 million transistors into the SoC. The platform also includes a Controller Hub (MP20) and a dedicated Mixed Signal IC. Highly integrated platform capable of scaling a range of operating systems and market segments including high-end smartphones, tablets and handheld devices.

Quotes:
“We have entered a new era for smart devices where wireless computing solutions bring 3D navigation, augmented reality, HD video filming, high speed broadband and other advanced capabilities to more consumers, enabling our vision of an all-connected world,” said Edgar Auslander, Senior Vice President, Strategic Planning at ST-Ericsson.

"Integrated into our leading-edge system-on-chip solutions, the new ARM core will enable our customers to build extremely
power-efficient devices with an unprecedented level of performance.”

"Consumers are demanding the full web experience without compromise while on the go. Given this trend, mobile device designers need an application processor platform that delivers superb multimedia performance, fast CPU processing speed, and abundant memory bandwidth. Samsung’s newest dual core application processor chip is designed specifically to fulfill such stringent performance requirements while maintaining long battery life.", said Dojun Rhee, vice president of Marketing, System LSI Division, Samsung Electronics

'Through "Moorestown," Intel is scaling the benefits of IA while significantly reducing the power, cost and footprint to better address handheld market segments. As a result of our efforts, the Intel Atom processor is pushing the boundaries of higher performance at significantly lower power to show what's possible as handheld devices become small, powerful mobile computers', said Anand Chandrasekher, Intel senior vice president and general manager of the Ultra Mobility Group.











References:
http://www.arm.com/about/newsroom/arm-unveils-cortex-a15-mpcore-processor-to-dramatically-accelerate-capabilities.php
http://www.intel.com/pressroom/archive/releases/2010/20100504comp.htm
http://www.androidpolice.com/2010/09/07/samsung-announces-orion-a-cortex-a9-based-dual-core-mobile-cpu/


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