Qualcomm launches 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon

Qualcomm has released details of its latest Snapdragon processor, the APQ8060 - and while it's not as powerful as some we've seen recently, it has the advantage of being available right now.

The Snapdragon APQ8060 chip, as hinted at by the specifications of HP's TouchPad which features the chip as its main CPU, is a dual-core ARM-based design which scales at least as far as 1.2GHz - although the company is currently keeping quiet on how far the design can be pushed.

The main selling point of the chip over competing dual-core designs is its asynchronous nature, which allows each CPU core to be independently controlled. During dual-core specific tasks, both will act at full speeds - but for tasks that run better on a single core, the redundant core can be switched off to save power or even allow the running core to overclock itself automatically.

The APQ8060 design also includes Qualcomm's Adreno 220 GPU technology, which packs in support for a 16 megapixel camera, full 1080p video playback, and even 3DTV support. Sadly, nobody appears to have told HP, which has paired the chip with a 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera and no HDMI output in its flagship TouchPad device.

The Adreno 220, however, has other capabilities up its sleeve: offering twice twice the processing power of its predecessor, Qualcomm claims that it will enable the TouchPad - and other devices based around the APQ8060 chip - to offer impressive 3D games with features including motion blur, dynamic lighting and shading, and other effects more commonly associated with desktop gaming.

"Our work with industry leaders has allowed us to showcase the full spectrum of Snapdragon’s graphics and multimedia capabilities in both the tablet and smartphone space across major software platforms," claimed Qualcomm's Raj Talluri at the chip's announcement. "With more than 75 Snapdragon devices already announced, 150 Snapdragon devices in development and over 100 high end mobile games optimized for our GPU, Qualcomm continues to be a leader in delivering high performance devices to market."

There's no denying that the Qualcomm Snapdragon APQ8060 is outclassed by some of the ARM-based designs announced over the past few months - such as the OMAP 5 platform from rival Texas Instruments, which packs two 2GHz Cortex-A15s and a further two Cortex-M4s into its innovative design - but Qualcomm does have one major advantage: unlike its competitors, it's showcasing a product that is available immediately.

With ARM licensees battling to produce ever more powerful processors, the mobile device market looks to be getting extremely interesting.