The second quarter of this year is going to be ridiculously exciting because we’re finally going to see mobile phones come out with something other than Qualcomm’s S3 Snapdragon or Samsung’s now ancient 45 nanometer Exynos chips. Qualcomm will be launching their S4 Snapdragon, which is built on a new 28 nanometer process, has a brand spanking new application processor called Krait, and most importantly it has an integrated 4G LTE modem that promises to be extremely power efficient. NVIDIA will be launching their Tegra 3, which brings quad core to the table. Whether or not we need four cores is debatable, but that’s another story all together. Anyway, what about the rest of the chip vendors? Texas Instruments has the OMAP5, but chances are it’s not going to end up in a smartphone until 2013; Samsung has a new Exynos they’re not yet shipping, but they may also have one they haven’t even announced; and as for ST-Ericsson, they just announced a beast of a new chip.
The new NovaThor L8540 is, like the Qualcomm S4, built on a 28 nanometer process. Also like the S4 it has a built in cellular modem that can do 4G LTE, 42 Mbps HSPA+, along with radios that can handle WiFi, Bluetooth, and NFC. So what’s the L8540 built on? It has a pair of ARM Cortex A9 processors running at up to 1.85 GHz, along with a PowerVR SGX 544 GPU running at up to 500 MHz. Make no mistake, that’s insanely fast.
Now the important question: When are we going to get our hands on this thing? Here’s where the facepalm comes in: Sampling begins in the the third quarter of this year. Mass production hasn’t even been talked about yet. Still, ST-Ericsson is heading towards the right direction, and we hope they get their shit together because more players in this market always translates to more advances in the space.