1.2GHz Dual-Core ARM CPU Now Certified For Blazing Through Android

Just a year or two ago, processor speed was the least of one's worry when shopping for a new smartphone. So long as it could make calls, send/receive texts and check your e-mail every so often, it was plenty powerful. Now, phones are capable of so much more thanks to advanced operating systems like Android and iPhone OS (not to mention webOS, Bada and Microsoft's new Windows Phone 7 Series), and CPU cores are just as important due to their ability to make the entire process speedy (or not speedy).

Up until now, Qualcomm's Snapdragon was the only real powerhouse on the market. Apple's A4 chip shows a lot of promise in the iPad, but it still hasn't found its way into the mobile sector just yet. ST-Ericsson and ARM have today made a move that should excite anyone who wishes their smartphone were faster. The two have announced that the dual-core ARM Coretex A9 MPCore processor (1.2GHz) is now tailored to work on the ST-Ericsson U8500 platform, which is Android compatible. The real sweetness is the Symmetric Multi Processing (SMP) that's involved, which improves the multitasking capability and peak performance of Android handsets, while maintaining the lowest power consumption profile.

“Using mobile phones solely to make phone calls and send short messages is becoming a thing of the past,” said Ronan de Renesse, senior analyst, head of Mobile Media, Screen Digest. “Revenues from mobile data services and applications are set to double in the next four years to reach Euro 100bn. For the market to reach its full potential, new mobile devices must become more versatile. With Web browsing being the most popular application on smartphones, it is also therefore critical for manufacturers to offer the best browsing experience.”

If you're still curious about SMP, here's a great description of how it improves things: "Symmetric Multi Processing enables multicore processors such as the ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore processor, to operate at lower voltages and frequencies, allowing consumers to do much more on a single battery charge. Instead of a single processor running at full capacity to complete a task, multiple cores can work concurrently and at a reduced rate: this causes the entire chip to operate at a lower temperature, which contributes to a reduction in power leakage. This allows an SMP system to deliver the same level of performance that might be expected from a larger and faster single-core processor, while consuming considerably less power. The ability to distribute parallel loads to different cores ensures that users will enjoy a much richer mobile experience through higher reactivity and faster execution of concurrent Web widgets, multimedia and communication functions, without compromising battery life."

Looks like your next Android smartphone just might be able to whip everything else if it's got a 1.2GHz CPU under the hood, but it still remains to be seen if any phone makers will pick this setup during their future hardware selection sessions.