Qualcomm wows with quad-core 2.5GHz Snapdragon

Mere days after announcing a new dual-core Snapdragon chip, Qualcomm has wowed the crowds at this year's Mobile World Congress event with a quad-core design for next-generation tablets that scales to an impressive 2.5GHz.

Fresh from its announcement of the Snapdragon APQ8060, which can be found powering HP's upcoming TouchPad webOS tablet, mobile chip specialist Qualcomm has confirmed precisely what we predicted: a quad-core design which it hopes will compete with Nvidia's upcoming Tegra 3 system-on-chip.

Qualcomm's latest chip, the Snapdragon APQ8064, takes the same basic ARM design as the APQ8060 but ups the speed to a massive 2.5GHz and doubles the number of processing cores to four. The 28nm design, the first in a new family of Snapdragon chips based on the codename 'Krait,' also includes a quad-core Adreno 320 graphics processor - with, the company claims, 15 times greater performance than the original Adreno GPU it replaces.

Boasting 12 times the overall performance in a design that draws 75 per cent less power than the original Snapdragon SoC platform, Qualcomm looks to have created a serious beast - although, unlike the already available dual-core APQ8060, samples of the APQ8064 aren't due to arrive until the start of next year.

"We're excited about the new, innovative devices the APQ8064 will enable in the market," claimed Qualcomm's Luis Pineda at the product's MWC launch. "With its Wi-Fi integration and ability to seamlessly interface with Qualcomm's 3G and LTE modules, the APQ8064 will provide OEM's with a flexible, cost-efficient and fast time to market platform that can meet all of their design configuration needs for tablets and next generation computing and consumer electronic devices."

That's a revelation that could spell trouble for HP: having pinned its hopes on the upcoming TouchPad tablet, which features Qualcomm's last-generation dual-core Snapdragon chip, the news that its technology is already old-hat is unlikely to be welcome. The feature list of the latest Snapdragon is likewise tempting enough to convince prospective tablet purchasers to hang on for a year or so: support for two 20 megapixel cameras, 3D video recording and 3D display support, PCIe, serial, and USB interfaces, and integrated Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth, NFC, and FM radio support are all included as standard.

Thankfully, the expected launch date of mid-2012 gives HP's TouchPad a head start over quad core-based rivals - but with the number of similar chips recently announced, expect to see an explosion in quad-core ARM chips during next year.