Mobile World Offers Replay Of Gigahertz Wars

Remember gigahertz? That speed measure for microprocessors has been all but banished from buyers’ minds in evaluating new PCs. But gigahertz emerged as a hot topic this week in Barcelona, where the mobile device world has converged for its annual trade show.

Qualcomm, for instance, used the Mobile World Congress to describe what may be a high water mark for gigahertz ratings among chips based on the widely used designs from ARM Holdings. But power consumption of future chips–including one discussed in a sneak preview by Intel–may be at least as important in the battle to supply future smartphones and tablet PCs.

Clock speed, measured in gigahertz–billions of cycles per second–is a bit like revolutions per minute, or RPM, in a car; it shows the speed of internal timing pulses in a chip rather than how much computing work gets done.

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