Qualcomm promises dual-core Snapdragon smartphones this year

Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) said it expects to see its dual-core Snapdragon processor inside a number of 4G products--including smartphones--coming to market this year. The company declined to provide further details, including which vendors will sell the devices, but the news serves to highlight Qualcomm's intent to maintain its lead in the applications processor market despite recent advances by the likes of Nvidia and others.

"We have what we think is a very innovative product," explained Cristiano Amon, senior vice president of Qualcomm's cellular products group. Amon said Qualcomm's dual-core Snapdragon processor, announced last year, will soon ship in Android tablets from Acer, Compal and Pantech. He said the offering also will power unannounced smartphones this year.

Vendors argue dual-core processors will dramatically boost the processing power of tablets and smartphones by essentially adding a second processing unit.

According to Strategy Analytics, Qualcomm led the overall smartphone applications processor market with 35 percent revenue share in the first half of 2010. However, firms including Nvidia, Intel, Broadcom and MediaTek are poised to attack the space. Indeed, Nvidia enjoyed a powerful position at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week; the company's Tegra 2 dual-core processor powered smartphone and tablet devices announced by the likes of Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI) and LG.

Amon argued Qualcomm's dual-core offering, which relies on an "asynchronous" design, will provide faster speeds with lower power consumption than the company's competitors. (Qualcomm said asynchronous multiprocessing differs from symmetrical in that each CPU core can operate at independent voltages and frequencies, enabling finer power control and optimal performance at low power.) Further, Amon argued Qaulcomm's ability to integrate its processor with its wireless modem technology--supporting either CDMA or GSM networks--will give the company a leg up on the competition.

Specifically, Amon said Qualcomm does not expect a decline in its market share during the coming year, and that the company expects to uncover a range of new market opportunities. Interestingly, Amon hinted at Qualcomm's possible expansion into the PC market; he said Qualcomm's silicon powered Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) demonstration of its next-generation Windows operating system.

Qualcomm last week announced it acquired chip vendor Atheros for $3.1 billion in a move to expand its addressable market.

For more:
- see this Qualcomm release

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Article updated Jan. 11 to include additional information from Qualcomm on the nature of its dual-core Snapdragon chip.