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In an almost one line release this week, US chip vendor Qualcomm says that it has begun shipping the chips that will line up against the Apple A4 - its Snapdragon dual core chips.

One of the keys to this chip is that Qualcomm has always preached that phones and portable devices will run on a single core in order to keep battery usage down, but that devices like smartbooks, netbooks and tablets, will also have a second core, so that when they are plugged in, and not trying to save on battery, they can blaze at double the speed.

This is the third generation of Snapdragon chips, called the Mobile Station Modem MSM8260 and MSM8660, each sporting two Qualcomm enhanced cores running at up to 1.2GHz. The MSM8260 has HSPA on board while the MSM8660 supports both HSPA, as well as Qualcomm's own EV-DO (rev B) design, for cellular data connectivity.

These chips are targeted at high-end smartphones, tablets and smartbooks and as they go to volume they could trigger the arrival of genuine smartbooks which owe more to netbook and tablet designs than to handsets.

The chips are said to be designed purely for high level web and graphics performance and include a powerful GPU (specialist graphics chip) with 3D/2D acceleration engines for Open GLES 2.0 and Open VG 1.1 acceleration, as well as 1080p HD video encode/decode and a dedicated low power audio engine. The chips come with built in low power GPS, and support for 24-bit WXGA 1280 x 800 resolution displays, taking a lot of the work out of building an iPad-type device.

Qualcomm's Snapdragon family of chipset solutions included the QSD8x50 first generation with 1GHz enhanced core, its second-generation products the MSM8x55 and QSD8x50A with 1GHz enhanced core, with multimedia optimizations and the QSD8x50A with 1.3GHz enhanced core. This generation offers the MSM8260 and MSM8660 and the QSD8672 with dual-CPU architecture featuring enhanced cores running at up to 1.2GHz and 1.5GHz, respectively.

Qualcomm also said this week that there are now over 140 product designs that use the Snapdragon processor and said that it will showcase these at the Computex Taipei 2010 conference in Taipei, Taiwan this week.

Qualcomm says that those designs include smartphones, pocket tablets, and smartbooks in both full-size tablet and clamshell form factor and listed the Acer's Liquid and neoTouch smartphones; the Dell's Streak 5 inch Android tablet; HP's Compaq Airlife 100 smartbook; HTC's Droid, Incredible and Nexus One smartphones; Huawei's S7 tablet and Lenovo's LePhone smartphone. And it says that at Computex there will be smartbooks with 7in to 15in displays in both clamshell and tablet form-factors.

Copyright © 2010, Wireless Watch

Wireless Watch is published by Rethink Research, a London-based IT publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter delivers in-depth analysis and market research of mobile and wireless for business. Subscription details are here.

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