Broadcom Enters the Dual Core Mobile Chip Wars

If 2010 was the year of the 1 Gigahertz handset, 2011 will likely be known as the year of the dual-core device: Broadcom (s brcm) has joined many of its peers by announcing a mobile chip with two logic processing cores. The system-on-a-chip will be shown off in a reference design at next week’s Mobile World Congress show, but looks good on paper now with support for every advanced smartphone feature consumers look for in a high-end device. The open question then is: Which handset makers will actually use it?

Indeed, that same question is the one that faced Nvidia (s nvda) all last year as the company’s Tegra 2 processor was shown to be a solid performer, but didn’t appear in any products. That’s now changing because many of the new smartphones and tablets arriving in the first half of 2011 will use a Tegra 2. Broadcom has hope then, that a solid product can make it to market if the chip company perseveres and keeps trying to build relationships with device manufacturers.

So what does Broadcom’s BCM28150 offer to a handset maker and thus consumers? Two 1.1 GHz application processing cores, dubbed the Merlyn processor, use the ARM Cortex A9 (s armh) architecture, much like Nvidia’s Tegra 2, Qualcomm’s newest Snapdragon (s qcom) and the upcoming OMAP 4 chip from Texas Instruments (s txn). Broadcom’s chip also supports 1080p video recording at 30 frames per second, HSPA+ broadband speeds up to 21 Mbps, and 3-D graphic fill rates of 1 Gigapixel per second. Begun the dual-core chip wars have!

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