ST-Ericsson is joining the “quad-core revolution” with its brand new NovaThor L8580 system-on-chip. However, it’s important to note that this product won’t find its place at the very top of the market. Rather, it will be used by mid-to-top end handset makers which just want the “quad-core” label slammed on their product boxes. The reason is simple – unlike latest chips from NVIDIA, Qualcomm and Samsung – ST-Ericsson’s solution doesn’t rely on the super-fast ARM Cortex-A15 architecture; rather it has four Cortex-A9 cores making it on par with chips used in such existing devices as Nexus 4, Samsung Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note II. In other words, it’s a high-end solution by last year’s standards but by the end of 2013, customers will expect something more powerful in the flagship smartphones and phablets offered by Tier 1 brands. Then again, this “slowness” coupled with code efficiencies delivers on other front, consuming half the power than other comparable platforms.
Aside from boasting four cores clocked up to 2.5GHz, the NovaThor L8580 also comes with built-in PowerVR SGX544 graphics running at 600 MHz, integrated modem with support for 3G and 4G connectivity, support for high-resolution displays and cameras, and so on. All said, we expect to see ST-Ericsson making big splashes with Tier 2 vendors which in turn will use the lower-cost solution to grow their market share across Asia.