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David Zax

A View from David Zax

Mobile Computing's Awesomeness Problem

Texas Instruments unveils a highly impressive new dual-core processor for tablets and smartphones. Meanwhile, onlookers just want a better battery.

  • June 14, 2011

A new mobile processor from Texas Instruments might be powering your next smartphone. At the recent Computex trade show in Taipei, Taiwan, TI unveiled the 1.8GHz dual-core OMAP4470. “Superior mobile computing relies on a user experience that dwarfs all others,” said TI’s Remi-El-Ouazzane in a statement. “The OMAP4470 processor delivers the maximum experience possible with an unmatched, power-efficient architecture.”

The OMAP4470’s two ARM Cortex-A9 MPCores are promised to give an 80% increase in Web browsing “performance” (speed, presumably). Its SGX544 graphics core represents a 2.5 times graphics performance increase over previous chips. And a new hardware composition engine with a dedicated 2D graphics core will help to maximize power-efficiency. Boy Genius Report praises its “power-sipping design.”

The chip is designed with an eye towards the HD displays of the next generation of mobile devices. The processor offers simultaneous support for up to three HD screens, according to TI. And it’s capable of offering twice the amount of layered images and videos than its competitors.

When will the processor be ready? Samples will appear in the second half of this year; actual consumer devices employing the chip won’t make an appearance till the first half of 2012, per TI.

To judge from a sliver of the online commentariat, at least, reaction to the processor was mixed. A few of BGR’s commenters were undoubtedly enthused by the specs: “Want,” wrote one, simply. “I am feeling better and better about NOT having already upgraded to a new smart phone,” chimed in another.

But the emerging consensus seemed to be that the new dual-core offering actually represented a sort of technological overkill. How could a device using such a chip possibly have a satisfactory battery life? “Speed is reaching a point where you wonder what you’re supposed to do with all that speed… I’d be more excited to see improvements to battery life,” wrote one.

A word to Texas Instruments (and other producers of multi-core mobile processors): before you bring us the cutting edge, make sure we’re covered on the bare necessities.

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