Earlier this year reports surfaced that Motorola was working on a smartphone with a 2 GHz processor, but one of our tipsters is now telling us that quote was taken out of context and they are actually going to be using the dual-core Tegra 2 processor from NVIDIA.
The original information came from ConceivablyTech that quoted Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha as saying his company would deliver a smartphone with a 2 GHz processor and NVIDIA Tegra-based graphics. We doubted that report since no 2 GHz mobile processors had been announced, but CNET confirmed the remark (with Moto spokeswoman Juli Bruda) that Jha promised such a device to his Chicago audience in June.
Now we have evidence that LG and Samsung are likely to launch dual-core smartphones this year and you can bet that Motorola will have a competing product for the holiday shopping season. Both dual-core processors coming in Q4 are ARM Cortex-A9 based and feature two cores running at 1 GHz each. We believe that two, 1 GHz cores was wrongly interpreted as a single-core 2 GHz processor and that’s how the original rumor took root.
Motorola has been using processors from Texas Instruments for their Droid lineup of phones, but it doesn’t sound like TI will have their dual-core OMAP4 ready in time for a Q4 launch. Even if the OMAP4 were to ship on-time, it only features a PowerVR SGX540 GPU (same as Samsung’s Hummingbird) and both NVIDIA and Samsung are promisng 5x the graphics performance from their new dual-core offerings (vs the previous generation single-core processors).
Unless there is some magical processor we have never heard of, then Motorola’s choices for a dual-core processor are limited to offerings from NVIDIA (Tegra 2), Samsung (Orion), TI (OMAP4), and Qualcomm (QSD8672). Both the Tegra 2 and Orion will be available this year, but Samsung is keeping their Orion CPU limited to “select customers” (aka Samsung Mobile). TI and Qualcomm are saying the will ship their dual-core CPUs in Q4, but we do not expect to see them in products till 2011.
Therefore, the original report that Motorola would have a phone with NVIDIA graphics makes sense if they decided to use the Tegra 2.
To add more fuel to the fire, we keep hearing Motorola and NVIDIA are working directly with Google on the next update for Android, codenamed Gingerbread. We were unsure if that would be ready in time for Q4, but you have to remember how Motorola pulled some strings and gained exclusive early access to Android 2.0 on the Verizon Droid.
We can see that NVIDIA is currently working on the Tegra 2 kernel which is up to version 2.6.35 (Android 2.2 is using 2.6.32) from the Android Open Source Project site. The commits are starting to come more frequently and a quick search shows several people with @motorola.com emails who are contributing. I’m not going to pretend to be an expert in kernel development, but Motorola has employees working on something Tegra 2 related.
Motorola still plans to move 12 to 14 million smartphones in 2010 and that means they are banking on a huge Q4. Will a Tegra 2 smartphone under the Verizon Droid branding be enough to hit their numbers? Let us know if it sounds plausible or if you think I’m full of it.