Imagining a quad-core Motorola Xoom

A tablet like the Motorola Xoom packing a quad-core processor just got a lot closer to reality with an Nvidia disclosure today at Mobile World Congress.

Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
Brooke Crothers
2 min read

As chipmakers trip over each other to announce tablet-centric chips packing four processing engines, it's not hard to see where a product like the Motorola Xoom is headed.

Where? The same performance space a mainstream laptop occupies now. A graphic Nvidia released to CNET shows its next-generation Tegra processor exceeding Intel's Core 2 Duo processor (the chip used in many, if not most, laptops today) in performance.

And Nvidia is claiming benchmarks back up this (see second embedded video below). Benchmarks aside, it's easy to imagine a future Motorola Xoom tablet crunching image data at speeds similar or better than a Core 2 Duo-based laptop.

"Today at Mobile World Congress, we demonstrated [a quad-core Tegra] running in an Android tablet," Mike Rayfield, manager of Nvidia's mobile business, wrote in a blog today. "This wasn't your average amazing video. It was 1440p video content running on a 2560×1600 panel. That will enable mobile devices to output to the highest resolution monitors or tablets equipped with a 10.1-inch display with 300 DPI."

Can tablets handle these PC-like processing engines? Rayfield said today that customers (which currently include Motorola, Samsung, Toshiba, and LG) are ready for all the processing brawn that Nvidia can muster. "You might well ask, what on earth can be done with nearly 75x improvement in performance over Tegra 2 that Stark [future processor] will provide in 2014? Our customers and partners have already indicated that they're confident they can use everything we give them," he wrote.

Nvidia posted a brief demo (first video below) of what a quad-core tablet's screen might look like flying through graphics-intensive Web sites. Pretty snappy. And, again, not too much of a stretch to imagine a future Xoom packing this kind of punch.

Needless to say, Nvidia is trying to set a high-water mark that rivals like Apple will have to match to stay competitive.

So, when is that Apple A6 processor due?