Both Intel and Qualcomm are announcing new dual-core processors for small devices, upping the performance potential for ultra-mobile computing.
Intel said Tuesday at the Computex conference in Taiwan that it has begun producing dual-core Atom processors for Netbooks, a product first for Intel. New Intel technology will enable "very, very thin form factors with dual-core Atom," Matthew Parker, general manager of Intel's Atom client division, said in a phone interview Friday. Parker said future Netbooks will get as thin as a half an inch (see photo).
Netbooks are small laptops that weigh less than 3 pounds and have screens that typically top out at about 10-inches diagonally. Parker said Intel specification guidelines will remain the same and have not been modified to accommodate larger designs, such as 12-inch Netbooks, as some have speculated.
Dual-core is all about better performance. "What dual core will bring is the ability to have a more responsive experience. You can video conference with our single-core product, but with the dual-core product you'll have better multiparty video conferencing," he said, citing one example. Intel is not yet revealing the product name for the chip but expects Netbooks using these procossors to be available by winter holiday season.
At Computex, Intel is also unveiling its "Oak Trail" technology, which is a system-on-a-chip Atom design optimized for thin tablets as well as Netbooks. Oak Trail will target Intel's and Nokia's MeeGo Linux, Windows 7, and Google operating systems.
Meanwhile, Qualcomm announced that it has begun sample shipments of its first dual-core Snapdragon silicon, targeted at high-end smartphones and Netbook-like devices called smartbooks. The single-core Snapdragon processor currently powers smartphones such as Google's Nexus One and tablets such as the Dell Streak.
The MSM8x60 series of Qualcomm chips features two CPU (central processing unit) cores running at up to 1.2GHz, a GPU (graphics processing unit) with 3D/2D acceleration engines, 1080p video encode/decode, dedicated low power audio engine, integrated low power GPS, and support for 24-bit WXGA 1280x800-pixel resolution displays, Qualcomm said.
Updated at 11:30 p.m. PDT: adding Intel 'Oak Trail' graphic.