Broadcom working on netbook device?

US chip shop Broadcom is thought to be following rivals Qualcomm and Intel into the netbook or Mobile Internet Devices (MID) space, after it licensed ARM’s Cortex A9 multicore processor this week.

Under a major licensing agreement, Broadcom will integrate the Cortex A9 processor technology into “next-generation mobile, wireless and other consumer electronics applications”.

In addition, ARM will also licence its Neon SIMD (Single Instruction, Multiple Data) technology to Broadcom, allowing the firm to provide acceleration for advanced, feature-rich multimedia, gaming and compute intensive applications on portable devices.

ARM claims that a single core Cortex A9 processor is capable of delivering twice the performance of today’s smartphone processors, and can be scaled up to exceed the functionality of high-performance embedded devices while consuming significantly less power, with each processor containing up to four independently configured, but fully coherent cores carrying out multiple tasks on each one in parallel.

Qualcomm got the bandwagon rolling in late May with the creation of a ‘new’ form factor that falls somewhere between the high-end smartphone and the netbook. The “smartbook” as Luis Pineda, senior vice president of marketing and product development at Qualcomm, dubbed the device, promises, “the smartphone experience in a larger form factor.”

Pineda said that around 15 companies are on board with the concept and there are around 30 such devices in development. The first of these will hit the shelves towards the end of 2009. Qualcomm would not name names, but Acer, Compal, Inventec, Samsung, Asus, Foxconn, LG, Toshiba, C-motech, HTC, Quanta and Wistron are all known users of the Qualcomm Snapdragon platform, which forms the foundation of the smartbook platform. Snapdragon, as a single chip solution combining GPS, multimedia, the processor, wifi and 3G on one chip, promises to make smartbooks lighter, thinner, cheaper and give them a longer battery life.

Then Nokia more recently jumped on the same bandwagon with the announcement of the Intel Atom-powered Booklet 3G, which runs Windows.

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