Freescale unveils quad-core mobile processor

The four-core i.MX 6Quad is at the top end of Freescale's new processor range and is designed for use in smartphones, tablets, e-readers and in-car entertainment systems

Freescale has introduced a quad-core application processor that can be used to deliver full-HD content on smartphones and tablets.

The i.MX 6Quad processor, unveiled on Monday, is at the top end of Freescale's new i.MX 6 range of processors, which also includes the single-core i.MX 6Solo and the dual-core i.MX 6Dual. The processors in the range, all based on ARM Cortex-A9 cores running at up to 1.2GHz each, are designed for use in smartphones, tablets, in-car entertainment systems and e-readers.

The new processors will make it possible for mobile devices to feature "3D video playback, desktop-quality gaming, augmented reality applications and content creation capabilities", Freescale said in a statement. The company added that the chips will be able to support full 1080p high-definition video at up to 60 frames per second.

At the moment, no smartphone has quad-core processors. Indeed, the first dual-core handset — LG's Optimus 2X — is due to go on sale in January. ARM's Cortex-A9 design can go up to as many as eight cores.

Hardware support for the VP8 video compression technology is another feature of Freescale's i.MX 6 range. Google acquired VP8 when it bought On2 in early 2010, subsequently bundling the technology with the Vorbis audio codec into a new video format called WebM.

"By incorporating VP8 compression technology into its advanced new i.MX 6 series of applications processors, Freescale is setting the pace for the consumer industry," said Jani Huoponen, WebM Project hardware product manager, in Freescale's statement.

Freescale said it will begin sending samples of its new range to device manufacturers "later this year".

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