Are Dual-Core Chips for Smartphones, Tablets or Both?

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An HTC smartphone with multiple cores is reportedly in the works, based on results found at a benchmark testing website. The speedy device is ironically named Glacier and meant for T-Mobile, says AlienBabelTech, which spied the results before the data was pulled. Regardless of which carrier is the first to gain a dual-core device, the future is clear: faster, more powerful processors are on the way for the next wave of handhelds.

If HTC is building a device with a dual-core processor, odds are good that the chip is a Snapdragon from Qualcomm, as that’s the chip of choice for HTC’s high-end smartphones. And the timing of such a chip sounds about right too; Qualcomm announced the MSM8x60 line of 1.2 GHz dual-core chips back in June and said that samples of such processors were then available to device manufacturers. Those samples could apply to phones, but the capabilities of such processors opens the door to larger-screen devices, as Om noted after the announcement:

These new chips can handle HSPA+ speeds and include a GPU that has 3D/2D acceleration engines for Open GLES 2.0 and Open VG 1.1 acceleration, 1080p video encode/decode, a dedicated low-power audio engine, integrated low-power GPS and support for 24-bit WXGA 1280×800 resolution displays.

AlienBabelTech could be right in that the test results it found are for a T-Mobile super smartphone, but an HSPA+ compatible tablet running Android 2.2 — or the next version of the platform, which should natively support higher resolutions — would certainly fit around such a processor as well. It’s worth noting that a sibling chip supports EVDO Rev. B for CDMA carriers too, which opens the doors for more tablets on the Verizon Wireless or Sprint networks.

Indeed, while more speed in our smartphones is never looked upon as a bad thing — provided the market doesn’t simply chase speed in lieu of usability and other features — compelling competitors to Apple’s iPad slate would certainly benefit from the capabilities offered in Qualcomm’s third-generation Snapdragon, or the fourth-generation OMAP from Texas Instruments, for that matter. I’m not getting too hung up on if such a chip will power smartphones or tablets, because at some point, it will likely power both types of devices.

Related GigaOM Pro Research (subscription required): For Phones, the Future is Multiple Cores

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