WES 2010: Talking BlackBerry Chipsets and Processing Power

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The PC innovation boom of the mid-90s was an interesting time. With rapid advancement in processor clock speed, other components couldn’t keep up. What does it matter if you have a good processor, if your hard drive or your memory bus is causing bottlenecks?

In talking with people here at WES, I’ve come to understand a little bit more about BlackBerry, and how it differs from PC engineering. Heat and power-draw can’t be easily engineered around with roomy cooling or big batteries. Engineering advancement on the mobile is a fine art of balancing compromises.

There’s a bit less of a processor focus with the BlackBerry platform. The platform started off as an email device and only recently became a mobile multitasking dynamo. Looking at the last two years of devices, users have begun to take notice of the processor specs.

The Bold 9000 and the Bold 9700 both have a similar 624Mhz processor. The new Pearl 3G has one too; it’s like they’ve never heard of Moore’s Law. The new 9650 has a 528Mhz chip: making it a pro device with a lower clock speed than a standard device.

Here’s what RIM had to say about it: processor clock speed is just a cog in the wheel of what’s really running your device. Megahertz is something relative too. A 528Mhz Qualcomm chip can out-crunch another manufacturer’s higher clock speed chip. Computational power is different than raw clock speed, just as AMD chips on the PC side run faster, yet can process less per-Mhz than their lower-clocked Intel counterparts.

What really runs your BlackBerry, at it’s core, is a working combination of chipset, memory, and OS. That’s why your BlackBerry runs faster with an OS update. That’s also why your device runs smoother with fewer applications installed and running, and better with every new model despite what numbers are written on the processor.

We’ll keep bringing you coverage of WES 2010, and feel free to drop your questions in the comments.

  • Eric at Ebscer
    MHz is only part of what determines processor speed and means nothing by itself.
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