Laptops, Windows 8 tablets will be key fronts in Qualcomm's ARM v. x86 battle

We already wrote about some of the cool stuff at Qualcomm Inc.'s (QCOM) keynote at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show, including Sesame Street augmented reality toys, the Qualcomm Tricorder X-Prize, and even a bit of anti-SOPA stumping by Consumer Electronics Association President Gary Shapiro.

Wrapping up we wanted to toss out some final odds and ends from the press conference.  Unlike some of the other press conferences (*cough* Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)) who were a bit odd in delivery and lacked a clear driving message, Qualcomm really delivered a compelling presentation showing off some of its biggest works in progress.

Qualcomm conference

At the heart of its talk was the Snapdragon 4 platform, which is an appropriate place to conclude our coverage of the event.  Snapdragon 4 is a platform aimed at smartphones, tablets, laptops, and even internet televisions.

It will come a-knocking in "early 2012", as a variety of dual- and quad-core chips.  While that may sound scary from a smartphone power consumption perspective, Qualcomm is going to be building its products on Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Comp., Ltd.'s (TPE:2330) new 28 nm process, which allows for much more power efficient performance, thanks to the smaller feature size.  The leaner, cooler chips also allow for a bump in performance.

Android wins
Android has been an important driver of Snapdragon.

On the GPU front, they will feature the new Adreno 225, and promise 1080p 3D video playback and support for Dolby 7.1 surround sound.  

Qualcomm Snapdragon on Nokia

Qualcomm says that it has 70 designs already in the works, from a plethora of partners.  Its particularly going hard at putting its "game-changer" Snapdragon 4 platform on Windows 8 tablets and notebooks.

Snapdragon 4 partners
Expect Snapdragon 4 devics from these companies.

While there's plenty of cause for skepticism regarding Windows 8 tablets, I previously wrote why I think they will defy the odds like a certain Tim Tebow and become a winner.  Basically much of Windows Phone's sales woes boil down to poor sales commission funding (meaning store employees are disinterested in pitching you the Windows Phone), a laggard schedule of deployment to top U.S. carriers, and poor advertising, to boot.  

Intel Corp. (INTC), a key competitor of Snapdragon was also extremely enthusiastic about Windows 8 tablets, so clearly the verdict is near unanimous between actual hardware makers -- Windows 8 has a lot of potential for the tablet space.

Qualcomm -- Microsoft's exclusive Windows Phone CPU provider -- clearly wants to make sure that Intel isn't the only Windows 8 tablet winner.  Empowered by Windows supporting ARM chips for the first time, ARM is prepared to storm towards Windows 8 glory.

States Qualcomm Chairman and CEO, Dr. Paul Jacobs, "Windows 8 is Windows reimagined as it is enabled by Snapdragon."

He enthusiastically spoke of an "always on, always active" lineup of Snapdragon 4 devices.  Clearly Snapdragon 4 has its work cut out for it, taking on Intel, but they've brought some top tier firepower on their side, including top mixed martial arts champion Alistair Overeem who made a surprise appearance at the keynote (Qualcom apparently makes an "Ubereem" themed video game...).

Alistair Overeem at Qualcomm

2012 should be quite the interesting year as ARM and x86 (Intel) engage in total war on the PC market.  This may be bad news for the loser, but its great news for the consumers should be able to purchase laptops, tablets, and smartphones at terrific prices and get fantastic device performance.

Qualcomm as the top ARM CPU maker will doubtless lead ARM's charge in the war.

All images © of Jason Mick and DailyTech LLC.

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