Windows Phone 8 smartphones to run Qualcomm's Snapdragon S4 chip

Qualcomm's Snapdragon S4 chips already power smartphones such as HTC's One X and Samsung's Galaxy S III

Smartphones running Microsoft's upcoming Windows Phone 8 OS will use Qualcomm's Snapdragon S4 processor, the chip maker said in a blog entry on Thursday.

Microsoft announced the Windows Phone 8 OS this week and highlighted its multicore support as one of the improved features. The Snapdragon S4 processor is already being used in some smartphones running the Android OS including HTC's One X and some models of Samsung's Galaxy S III, which became available in the U.S. on Thursday.

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Microsoft and Qualcomm have worked closely on earlier versions of Windows Phone OS. All current smartphones running Windows Phone are based on Qualcomm's older single-core Snapdragon chips. The S4 chips come in multiple flavors, including a dual-core version with 3G/4G LTE and a quad-core version without the integrated radio.

"There are many components within the Snapdragon S4 processor that are tied to and powering many of these Windows Phone 8 features," said Qualcomm's PJ Jacobowitz in a blog entry. Microsoft has highlighted features of Windows Phone 8 on its Windows Team Blog website.

The Snapdragon S4 chips are based on ARM architecture and made using the 28-nanometer processor. However, manufacturing issues related to the 28-nm process have limited the supply of the chips, with industry executives expecting S4 supplies to normalize by the end of this year. The Snapdragon S4 chips will also be used in tablets running in the upcoming Windows 8 OS.

Some of the features highlighted by Qualcomm include the S4's integrated graphics processor. Windows Phone 8 OS brings the CPU and graphics processor closer, which will help improve application and graphics performance.

The S4 chips also have GPS and GLONASS, which will provide access to satellite networks for better mapping and location services. Integrated features on the chip will also improve security functions on the smartphone OS.

Microsoft has said the first wave of Windows Phone 8 smartphones will come from Nokia, Huawei, Samsung, and HTC, which will all use Qualcomm chips. Smartphones with the OS are expected to arrive later this year.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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