ARM specs in the wheel-house of Intel Atom

With all the buzz in the netbook space, Qualcomm(QCOM)'s November announcement may have gotten lost, the one for its QSD8672 1.5GHz dual-CPU Snapdragon single-chip solution. Why this announcement is particularly noteworthy is that it's the first ARM(ARMH)-based solution for netbooks which has comparable specs to Intel(INTC) Atom chipsets, and for some features arguably better.

While the current Qualcomm Snapdragon generation runs at 1GHz, the newly announced chipset is a dual-CPU 1.5GHz single-chip solution, manufactured at 45nm by TSMC(TSM). Those are specs that bring the ARM architecture well into the Intel Atom wheel-house, albeit with better battery life and a highly integrated single chip solution.

The new Qualcomm chipsets will start sampling by 2H2009. In the mean time, various vendors are building netbooks with the current 1GHz Snapdragon generation, with products expected 1H2009. Following are some of the specs of the announced QSD8672:
  • Processor: 1.5GHz dual-CPU (45nm)
  • Wireless: GPS, Bluetooth, WiFi, 3G
  • HD video: 1080p recording and playback
  • mobile TV: MediaFLO, DVB-H and ISDB-T
  • graphics: Integrated 2D and 3D
  • displays: resolutions up to WSXGA (1440 x 900), sizes from 9 to 12 inches
  • Supported OS: Linux and Windows Mobile
We'll see how their offerings stack up as current generation Snapdragon netbooks roll out. But the specs game is on. As the netbook market grows, who will be the next ARM-based vendor to compete on GHz or multiple cores? Will it be the TI(TXN) OMAP, the NVIDIA(NVDA) Tegra, or maybe the Freescale(FSL) i.MX? Or Apple(AAPL) with their PA Semi acquisition?

Of note, Qualcomm previously promised a "big presence in Snapdragon-based devices at CES 2009".

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