Qualcomm shows Eee PC running Android OS

Qualcomm expects the first Snapdragon laptops to hit the market by the end of this year

Qualcomm showed off a previously unannounced version of Asustek Computer's Eee PC based on its Snapdragon processor at the Computex exhibition on Monday, including one running Google's Android operating system.

The new laptop -- which Qualcomm calls a smartbook -- is thinner and lighter than current members of Asustek's Eee PC netbook lineup because the 1GHz Snapdragon processor that it uses does not require a heat sink or a cooling fan, said Hank Robinson, vice president of business development at Qualcomm.

Qualcomm's Snapdragon includes a 1GHz Arm processor core, a 600MHz digital-signal processor and hardware video codecs. Currently, Asustek's Eee PC line of netbooks relies on Intel processors, in particular the low-cost, low-power Atom chip, which has an x86 processor core.

Qualcomm withheld detailed specifications of the laptop at Asustek's request, but the machine has a 10-inch screen, a built-in webcam and includes a universal 3G radio that supports all UMTS and CDMA networks on all frequencies used around the world, Robinson said. With the cellular capability activated, the laptops should run for eight to 10 hours on battery, he said.

The two Snapdragon-based Eee PCs on display at Qualcomm's booth at the Computex exhibition in Taipei were both running Linux, one running Android and the other running Xandros. They were displayed alongside another prototype from contract manufacturer Compal Electronics, which was also running Android.

Pricing and availability of the Snapdragon-based Eee PC was not available, but Qualcomm expects the first laptops based on the processor to hit markets later this year.

Besides Asustek, Toshiba has disclosed its plans to release a Snapdragon-based handheld computer.

Acer, LG Electronics and Samsung Electronics also plan to release devices based on Snapdragon, said Luis Pineda, senior vice president of marketing and product management at Qualcomm. In all, 15 different companies have so far produced designs for 40 devices based on the chips, he said.

When the first Snapdragon-based devices hit the market later this year, they will have a 1GHz Arm processor core but that will increase to 1.3GHz next year, with the release of Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8650A, Pineda said.

The 8650A, which will consume less power than its predecessor, will start shipping in sample quantities at the end of this year, he said.

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