Marvell Technology (s mrvl) said today that it’s figured out a way to deliver the first-ever quad-core ARM-based (s armh) application processor for cell phones and other mobile devices. More cores equals more performance, of course, and Marvell says its quad-core ARM chips will deliver “gigahertz-plus” performance.
Currently Qualcomm’s (s qcom) Snapdragon chipset is the leader in ARM-based processors for phones, with 1 Ghz of performance. In terms of having identical processors working on the same computing problem, sometimes called symmetric multicore processing, there aren’t any chips doing symmetric multicore processing running in today’s phones. Rather most cell-phone applications processors have multiple cores, with one handling computing, another doing graphics and another taking on multimedia. Marvell’s quad-core would deliver four CPUs — or four times that of today’s applications processors.
That’s more than today’s cell phones need to run properly, but if gimmicky features like animated wallpaper, as well as useful ones like running multiple apps, take off, they’ll become essential. Plus, if today’s tablet hype actually results in user adoption, quad-core performance makes a lot of sense for those machines. I’m waiting to hear back as to how long it may be before we see quad-core ARM chips in real-world devices, or even if Marvell is starting to manufacture them. One way or another, I like where the company is headed.