Trade show CES (Consumer Electronics Show) never disappoints when it comes to bringing the cutting edge in technology and gadgets, and the Las Vegas affair has once again got the tech world talking with some interesting and exciting releases.
A majority of attention has gone to new developments in the TV department, indeed a number of companies looked intent on showing their latest television sets and many were shown to the 150,000 attendees, but some of the more significant developments may be in processing chips.
Qualcomm, Intel and Nvidia all announced new lines of chips to be rolled out in smartphones and tablets this year, with both low and high end products to see the new pieces processing power in 2013.
Snapdragon 600 & 800
It was Qualcomm who kicked off not only the processing chip party but the conference as a whole, with boss Paul Jacobs being the first ever non-Microsoft man to host the pre-show keynote talk.
Microsoft did weigh into the pre-show keynote with Chief Executive Steve Ballmer making a guest appearance to show off Windows 8 devices that featured Qualcomm’s big new products, the Snapdragon 800 and 600 processing chips.
Initially the 600, which appears to be the mid ranged option, offers a Quad Core Krait 300 CPU with speeds of up to 1.9GHZ.
Qualcomm claim this should result in a 40% increase in performance on its predecessor, the Snapdragon S4 Pro which is utilised by the flagship Google Nexus 4 and HTC Droid DNA.
Graphics will also be improved upon from the S4 thanks to a new speed enhanced Adreno 320 GPU, along with support for LPDDR3 memory.
The Snapdragon 600 is sampling now and is due for release in commercial devices within the second quarter of 2013.
The Snapdragon 800 seems to be the high end alternative and should be released hot on the heels of the 600 and boasts a plethora of advanced features.
Jacobs demoed a prototype tablet that was housing a Snapdragon 800 processing chip and it was able to render full UltraHD, or 4k, video, a term you can expect to start dominating the tech market, at 40fps, on top of this tablets and smartphones featuring the chip will be able to capture video at full UltraHD.
The more advanced processor will feature a Quad Core Krait 400 CPU, running speeds of up to a whopping 2.3GHZ per core, resulting in a 75% performance boost on the Snapdragon S4 Pro.
4G LTE will be supported by the high end processor, as will the capturing of 3D images and image merging allowing 55mp photos and the Dual Image Signal Processors that make this possible will also support up to four cameras on a device.
The Snapdragon won’t just feature in mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets but will also run in smart TVs and digital media adaptors.
Nvidia Tegra 4
Next up to impress was Nvidia’s Tegra 4 processing chip, which turned heads with the sheer amount of custom cores.
One of the key features of the Tegra 4 was the Geforce GPU, which offers an incredible 72 custom cores, this results in six times the graphics performance than the previous Tegra 3.
This, Nvidia claim, results in the world’s fastest mobile processor, setting records for performance and battery life.
Much like Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 the Tegra 4 comes with all the extensive features that consumers will come to expect from high end mobiles and tablets, like 4k UltraHD video support, LTE 4G compatibility and a Quad-core CPU.
What really makes the Tegra 4 stand out though is its battery saving abilities, as it addresses a common problem in the modern tech world.
Smartphones, with all their features, can often be drained of juice quickly, however the Nvidia’s Tegra 4 claims to have solved this issue by designing a processor with energy efficiency at its core.
Thanks to enabling battery saving during ‘standard use’ and only kicking in full power when necessary the Tegra 4 is expected to consume 45% less power than it’s predecessor in common use cases. On top of this the Tegra 4 will allow an incredible 14 hours of HD video playback on phones.
The first devices to be put on the market that will utilise the processing power of the Tegra 4 will be Nvidia’s own Project SHIELD portable gaming console.
Intel Atom Z2420
Finally to be announced was Intel’s Atom Z2420 and with processing speeds of 1.25GHZ it’s not going to set the world alight but Intel seems to have inclusion at the head of the business plan for 2013.
The Z2420 joins a big family with the Atom brand, with Intel’s processor powering a host of Windows 8 tablets, such as the HP Envy X2 and the Lenovo ThinkPad 2, as well as a number of smartphones like the Motorola RAZR I and Orange’s own San Diego.
Intel have gone for the low end of the smartphone market with the Z2420 however and have put an emphasis on emerging markets by offering impressive performance on a budget.
Aimed at markets in India, Latin America and Africa Intel really hope to put a strong foothold in the developing electronic market and if the Z2420, or Lexington as it has been codenamed, delivers on what general manager of mobile products at Intel Mike Bell promised at CES they should do exactly that.
Dual SIM support is a useful feature to support, especially for the emerging market where the strongest cellular carrier is probably yet to be defined for consumers.
The processor also supports two cameras and in a device with a 5mp camera will be able to take seven pictures in a second, not bad for what could be someones first smartphone.
1080p hardware-acclerated encoding and decoding is also supported and the first smartphone carriers of the processor are expected to be from Lava, Safaricom and Acer, with full support for Android apps.
So that’s what you can expect under the hood of you’re new tablets and smartphones in 2013, from the high end Tegra 4 and Snapdragon 800 to the low end Intel Atom Z2420, with the mid ranged Snapdragon 600 completing the options for pretty much all types of users.
Qualcomm Snapdragon images courtesy of digitalversus.com, Intel’s Atom Z2420 images courtesy of DailyTech.com