Snapdragon Bites Back: Qualcomm Announces A Quad-Core 2.5Ghz Chipset For Mobile Devices

I’ve been writing about the mobile industry for a few years now, and there’s one thing that still blows my mind each and every day: the rate at which these companies are able to make new feel old. Everytime something comes along and rocks our world, someone else in the industry responds with “Oh yeah? Well our new thing is twice as fast! And twice as efficient! Oh, and ours is completely powered by the laughter of unicorns! Beat that!”

And then someone does.

Just 3 weeks ago, a document leaked out NVIDIA detailing the Tegra 3, a 1.5 GHz, Quad-Core chipset for smart phones and tablets. Madness, right? Texas Instruments responded with their own quad-core chipset — except theirs clocked in at 2 Ghz.

Now it’s Qualcomm’s turn. Their rebuttal? 4 cores, each running at a theoretical maximum of 2.5 GHz. Punch it, Chewie!

Later this morning at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Qualcomm will be announcing the next-generation of their Snapdragon chipset line. Based on a brand spankin’ new micro-architecture that Qualcomm calls “Krait” (which, we’ve learned from the vast Internets, is the name of a genus of snakes from India whose bite will straight wreck your day), the new APQ8064 chipset is faster, runs cooler, and gobbles up less battery than any Snapdragon before it.

Here’s what you should know:

  • Four cores, each capable of running at 2.5GHz
  • Qualcomm promises that this new CPU is 12x faster than the first-gen Snapdragons, while still using 75% less power.
  • LG’s Optimus 3D may be the first smartphone to do the whole recording-in-3D thing, but that seems pretty likely to become a trend. This chipset can do it out of the box, recording simultaneous 1080p video feeds from two cameras at once.
  • As with past Snapdragon chipsets, it’s more than just a CPU: it’s also got WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth, FM radio, and support for NFC (for mobile contact-based payments) built-in.
  • Last but absolutely not least, this new chipset also comes packed with Qualcomm’s brand new quad-core graphics processor, the Adreno 320. They’re staying a bit light on the details regarding this new GPU, but add that its performance is “fifteen times greater” that of the original Adreno.

But of course, there’s a catch: as chipset manufacturers tend to do, Qualcomm’s talking this thing up long before it’s actually available. Samples of this chipset won’t even start reaching manufacturers until early next year, so expect it to be a pretty long while before we actually see this new chipset sneak into any devices. By that point, I’m sure we’ll be getting all worked up over a deca-core 10GHz processor that ManufacturerX will be promising to install in our heads by 2015.