Broadcom Looking to Compete With Qualcomm With Android-Ready Chipset

Broadcom – the company who probably makes the wireless card inside your laptop – is looking to step their chipset game up and try to make some noise in mobile. They’re introducing two new chipsets that will be Android 2.3-supported out of the box. (Whatever that means.)

In one offering – the BCM21850 – they’ve added two 1.1GHz Cortex-A9 chips for dual-core heaven. All of the usual features you’d expect out of today’s chipsets are present, including the ability to play back 1080p HD video. There was no word on which GPU would be accompanying the processors, unfortunately.

They also have a couple of single core offerings that don’t sound as impressive, but could be a great option for OEMs looking to create low-cost handsets with decent power.

With these moves, Broadcom is starting to sound more like Qualcomm, who provides ARM-based chipsets that aren’t as inspiring as offerings from NVIDIA or Samsung, but are very attractive to OEMs not looking to throw a lot of money into a handset. They aren’t the first, of course, so time will tell just how well they’ll end up doing. [IntoMobile]

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  • Matrix

    Just what Android needs – more mediocre, underpowered, over-utilized devices.

  • Vlad

    Hey Quentyn, just as you implied that GPU and the processor is different entities, you should know that Qualcomm’s chips in terms of processing are only second to Tegra 2, which are dual core. They are by no means economy processors and outperform Samsung’s and TI’s in almost every test. The GPU is another story and it’s Samsung’s strength, where it leads the pack. Lets not get your readers confused.

  • Covert

    @matrix… did you not read 1.1ghz DUAL CORE… that is by no means underpowered. are you telling me that alll LOW end chips should be off the table. that would be stupid for all reasons, the high end chip this article is about sounds impressive, just cause it’s arm doesn’t mean it can’t compete, or beat, a tegra or hummingbird

  • Steven Skwarkowski

    By the time this hits the market…it will be mediocre!

  • sansenoy

    Snapdragons aren’t “as inspiring” as tegra and hummingbird??? The only non-licensed but custom cpu design, whose 65nm variant managed to outperform all of this years 45nm silicone??? The latest snapdragon is the best singlecore chipset for android, and i’ll repeat, Qualcomm design the cpu themselves, so they always come a bit late, but better.

  • android

    The Snapdragon beats other CPUs in float point instructions because it has a much deeper pipeline. However, the Hummingbird beats it in many other areas. One thing that Samsung-Intrinsity did really made the difference. 128mb of RAM is dedicated to a OneDRAM chip, which is also why the Galaxy Ss have 384 usable. This chip allows the GPU to draw 90 mt/s and it allows the CPU to get instructions done faster. This makes a massive difference in performance when compared to the Hummingbird without the chip. But in general day to day use, you aren’t going to notice the difference between a Snapdragon, Hummingbird, OMAP, or whatever. They’ll really only show in benchmarks and games. .

  • Chris

    @Vlad… I don’t know where you got the idea that the Samsung PowerVR SGX540 GPU leads the pack. Nvidia is a start of the art graphics company and while the Tegra 2 doesn’t blow the SGX540 out of the water, it is faster. Check out

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/4067/nvidia-tegra-2-graphics-performance-update

  • Steve

    @sansenoy No they do not design it by themselves. They base their design off ARMs, just like everyone else in this market. They just have a license that like many vendors lets them make substantial changes.

  • sansenoy

    @steve Of course it’s an ARM licensed chip, but it’s not their reference design

  • Alexander

    Sweet, Qualcomm, Broadcom and now we just need Capcom to make a chip. *troll face*

  • Vlad

    @Chris
    I should have clarified, I meant between single core processors.

  • QuantumRand

    @Vlad, keep in mind that the majority of benchmarking tests on the Android platform favor Qualcomm’s architecture. For a while, Qualcomm chips were the only choice for Android phones. That paired with the fact that all of the major dev devices (G1, MyTouch/Ion, and N1) used Qualcomm’s processors, meant most benchmarks will show a bias in favor those processors.

    I do agree that Qualcomm’s current gen-2 (45nm) processors beat both OMAP and Hummingbird in terms of RAW CPU performance, but both of those chipsets are still on their first generation architectures, and in the case of Hummingbird, the difference in performance is pretty marginal.

    What disappoints me with the current Qualcomm offerings are the GPUs they use. They could do so much better than an Adreno 220.

  • QuantumRand

    ^correction, Adreno 205. The 220 might be a fair contender, though I’m not holding my breath.

  • red2erni

    Give me one I can swap out and its a runaway winner!!

  • Vlad

    @Quantum
    What are you talking about they favor Qualcomm? All three chips are based on the Cortex A8 architecture with ARMv7 instructions. Qualcomm however slightly tweeks it’s design which results in a performance increase. They were the fastest when they came out with 65nm process and now the fastest among single core 45nm chips. The GPU is another story. Though the 205 is respectable, though lacks behind…