Dual-core processors were a major jump forward for desktops and notebooks. When they first hit, they allowed an unparalleled level of graphics processing capability and lead to a substantial boost in overall processing power. Smartphones and other handheld media devices have had to deal with single core processors up until now, which has greatly limited the sorts of programs they can handle. With the Zune HD, that all changes.
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CNET news reports that the new HD will be the first portable media player to use multiple cores to enable superior graphics processing. The main processor, an ARM11, will run the operating system itself. The Zune also has an additional Nvidia graphics chip that will power Flash rendering, HD video, and web page rendering. This Tegra chip actually integrates eight separate processors, which should make the Zune HD the most powerful handheld device on the market.
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But the HD is just the first step. There are 50 other Tegra devices under construction right now, including several smartphones which are due for release near the end of the year. The proliferation of the Tegra chip means a new era for mobile gaming and browsing. By this time next year, I expect single core media players and smartphones to be increasingly rare. Devices with Tegra-style processors could be the norm in 2 to 3 years.
Nvidia is already hard at work on the next generation of Tegra chips, which will feature the much faster Cortex-A9 processor instead of the ARM11. Mobile technology is leaping forward every year at a staggering pace. It won't be that long before we're carrying around more processing power in our pockets than our current desktops are capable of. The new