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Get ready for full 4K smartphones

gadgets Updated: Feb 05, 2015 11:02 IST
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The next generation of smartphones to be powered by ARM-designed processors will be able to record 4K video content at a massive 120 frames a second.

It looks as if ultra-high-definition recording and playback are set to become standard features on future high-end handsets. ARM this week has confirmed that its newest processor designs, expected to make their debut in smartphones and tablets in 2016, will be up to 50 times more powerful than the fastest chips used in phones just five years ago.

ARM is to mobile devices what Intel is to desktop computers -- i.e., its designs dictate and make possible trends and new types of device usage. However, unlike Intel, ARM creates a reference design that companies like Qualcomm and MediaTek can license in order to build chips in house.

In particular, the Cortex-A72 processor, when combined with the equally new Mali-T880 graphics processing unit, promises console-like gaming without devouring battery life, smoother and easier multitasking especially with productivity apps and the power to handle ultra-high-definition (4K) content at the full 120 frames per second.

"Increasingly, consumers are adopting mobile devices including smartphones, tablets, phablets and other large screen devices as their primary compute platforms. These larger form factor devices demand higher performance and energy-efficiency that scales across a variety of processor configurations," said Mr. Feng Chen, chief marketing officer, Rockchip one of ARM's partner companies of the new processors.

The first smartphones with 4K capabilities started rolling out at the end of 2014 but to date, very few can manage the format at more than 30 frames per second.

Processor firm Qualcomm recently took the wraps off its Snapdragon 810 processor, which is based on an existing ARM design, and is already starting to lay some of these foundations. It is able to support 4K video and is much better at graphics handling and is expected to be the chip of choice for a number of premium Android handsets due for launch in 2015.

Therefore the move towards ultra-high definition has already started but expect full support to be a standard smartphone feature before the end of the decade.