Snap Goes The Dragon

Who remembers their first smartphone? For me, it was an iMate running Windows Mobile and my main memory of it was that it was slow. While it did everything it was designed to do, like give me access to my calendar, make calls, play the odd game of Bubbles and run a few basic apps it was horribly slow. Well, time has marched on and we're now on the brink of another improvement as Qualcomm's Snapdragon platform is ready for the world.

The first thing to know is that Snapdragon isn't just a processor. It's a technology platform that brings together a powerful, energy efficient processor, integrated 3G comms with options for WiFi and Bluetooth, high resolution graphics with broad codec support and the capability to run Windows Mobile, Android and a stack of Linux-based OSes. One of the great attractions of Snapdragon is that it can hardware record and play 1080p video making it a great portable entertainment platform.

Unlike most other platforms, Snapdragon is designed to work in anything from a smartphone up to a 12-inch netbook-style device running at 1440 by 900. The first Snapdragon device was the Toshiba TG01 smartphone although the most well known is Google's Nexus One smartphone. HTC's Desire and Sony Ericsson's XPERIA X10 also run Snapdragon highlighting that this is a platform that we're going to see more and more over the coming months. Netbooks running Snapdragon have been shown although that market seems to still be dominated by Intel with its Pineview chipset for now.

Qualcomm is putting plenty of resources behind Snapdragon with the chipset being updated several times. Since its arrival in late 2008, when the QSD8650 and QSD8250 chipsets were released the QSD8672 has been released boosting processor speed from 1GHz to dual cores running at 1.5GHz. So, while Apple is boasting about its A4 silicon, Qualcomm leapfrogged it before the A4 was revealed in the iPad.

It's an exciting time for mobile device makers and enthusiasts. Finally, were seeing energy efficient, powerful processing units that can handle the boring work stuff and the fun stuff easily. Snapdragon has raised the bar and will force everyone to improve the performance of their hardware. That means whether you buy a Snapdragon equipped smartphone or not, you'll end up with a better device.

MobileModo is Gizmodo Australia’s look at the rise and rise of the mobile phone, from Bell’s landline to the ubiquitous mobiles of today.

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