Samsung A9 enters fray for more powerful mobile devices

Samsung announced a dual-core A9 processor for next-generation smartphones and tablets

Samsung announced that it is entering the arena for dual-core mobile processors. Joining rival platforms like the Qualcomm Snapdragon and the Tegra 2, Samsung will soon have a dual-core A9 processor--codenamed "Orion"--available for smartphones and tablets.

As the mobile phone has transitioned into the smartphone, and the smartphone has evolved into more of a portable hand-held computing device than a mobile communications device, the need for processing horsepower continues to rise. With tablets, the expectations are even higher because the tablet is primarily a mobile computing platform.

The new dual-core architectures will enable faster performance and improved battery life simultaneously. The more powerful chip will also allow for full 1080p HD video playback. A Samsung press release for the dual-core Orion explains "Samsung's new application processor incorporates a rich portfolio of advanced multimedia features implemented by hardware accelerators, such as video encoder/decoder that supports 30fps video playback and recording at 1080P full HD resolution. Using an enhanced graphics processing unit (GPU), the new processors are capable of delivering five times the 3D graphics performance over the previous processor generation from Samsung."

"Consumers are demanding the full web experience without compromise while on the go," said Dojun Rhee, vice president of Marketing, System LSI Division, Samsung Electronics. "Given this trend, mobile device designers need an application processor platform that delivers superb multimedia performance, fast CPU processing speed, and abundant memory bandwidth. Samsung's newest dual core application processor chip is designed specifically to fulfill such stringent performance requirements while maintaining long battery life."

If only Samsung could have made the new dual-core Orion processor available six months sooner. The Samsung Galaxy Tab seems formidable enough, but if Samsung could have accelerated development of the Orion dual-core A9, it would have made the Android tablet exponentially more compelling and a much more serious threat to the dominant position of the Apple iPad.

Since the iPad is built using a similar architecture, it is conceivable that the next generation iPad could use a dual-core processor. However, the current rumors focus on a possible 7-inch model of the iPad, doubling the RAM from 256Mb to 512Mb like the iPhone 4, and upgrading from Apple's custom A4 processor to Cortex A9.

With an array of tablets set to launch soon, and with cutting edge smartphones raising the bar almost monthly, it won't be long before dual-core is simply the default smartphone and tablet architecture. The next generation of mobile devices will take a quantum leap in features and functions as manufacturers embrace the emerging dual-core processors.

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Tony Bradley

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