Stacey Higginbotham at GigaOM has the exact right headline on her piece today about the increasing power of mobile phone CPUs: The Gigahertz Race Goes Mobile. Qualcomm and Texas Instruments are announcing super-fast mobile processors that meet or exceed the capabilities of desktop processors. Why does it matter? Higginbotham wanders around in the weeds for quite a while . Four cameras on a phone? Gesture based computing? No. But she's on target by the close:
In a professional setting, there are more CPU-intensive apps that will require multitasking and just more CPU-work for processing spreadsheets or perhaps the heavyweight Windows software that is being ported to ARM-based chips. Plus, there’s the concept of virtualizing a mobile phone or tablet, so it can do double duty as a work phone/computer and a personal gadget. Hypervisors, the software that virtualizes the underlying CPUs, are pretty large sucks of processing power.
So while mobile application processors aren’t yet being used to sequence the human genome, they are turning into the desktops of the previous decade, being asked to be productive, connected and entertainment boxes while we’re on the go. And for all that, gigahertz still matter.
-GigaOm, Feb. 14, 2011