Nokia puts off dual-core smartphones
A forum at the Multicore Expo in San Jose, California revealed that to date, three companies have already started shipping dual-core mobile processors and as many as eight will do the same by the end of 2011. "Just about every high-end smartphone" will move to dual-core processors in 2011, said Linley Gwennap, principal of the Linley Group.
Three mobile OS already support multi-core chips including Google's Android 3.0, Apple's iOS 4.3 and Blackberry 8. One of the big laggards is Windows Mobile Phone 7.
Microsoft removed multi-core support from its Mobile Phone 7 OS, focusing the software only on a single-core Qualcomm chipset in an effort to get it to market quickly, said one source. The company knows it needs to update its mobile software more often than its desktop code, but it's not clear when it will add multi-core support.
Handsets typically have a 12-24 month lifecycle, said Gwennap. The lack of multi-core support "could limit Nokia until Microsoft can retrofit the software for dual core," Gwennap said.
Nokia has long been the leading supplier of cell phones, making its Symbian OS among the most popular mobile software platform. But the handset giant has been slow to respond to the concept of a Web-connected device pioneered by the Apple iPhone.
In the first quarter, Apple led growth in smartphone unit sales, according to IDC.
Symbian 4 is expected to be released soon supporting multi-core processors. However, Nokia recently struck a deal with Accenture to hire its Symbian team as part of a plan to lay off 7,000 people.
The LG Optimus smartphone was the first smartphone to use a multi-core chip when it shipped in January, quickly followed by tablets from Motorola and Apple in February and March. Mobile multi-core chips coming later this year include (in order of their expected appearance) the Samsung Exynos 4210, Qualcomm MSM8260, ST Ericsson U8500, Marvell Armada 2828 and Broadcom BCM 11311.
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