Moto-ATRIXWith the release of Motorola’s Atrix and Xoom last week, the age of dual-core processor powered devices is officially upon us.

It was really inevitable that dual-core processors would make their way into our mobile devices.  When they first came to computers, people immediately flocked to them thinking they were going to see massive increases in productivity and speed.  However, just like in the case of computers, getting dual-core chips to truly live up to their potential takes not just the hardware, but also software companies- in this case, app developers – to tell their programs how to use that extra core.

While the NVIDIA Tegra II and the forthcoming dual-core Snapdragon from Qualcomm may not have a plethora of apps out there yet that will be able to utilize their full power, just as happened with their computer cousins, that day will come.  We are looking towards a future where our phones are just going to be “smart”, they’re going to be smart, fast and powerful.  Many non-tech people in my life have said to me of their phones over the years, “I can’t believe how it’s like carrying a computer in your hand,” and while partially right, we weren’t quite there yet, but we’re a whole lot closer now.

What can dual-core processors do for you that a single-core can’t?  Once the software catches up, you will theoretically no longer get that sluggishness that comes with moving from one task to another on the phone, or trying to do two things at once like listen to Internet radio and surf the Web at the same time.  Also, again in theory, you may see your battery life extended somewhat thanks to tasks being distributed over cores instead of pegging one core with everything and having it maxed out.  NVIDIA has released a PDF detailing what it sees as all the benefits of being on a dual-core architecture, but it really can be boiled down to, “everything will be better.”

Of course, come six or so months from now, we’ll be writing the same article about how dual-cores have come to pass as NVIDIA has already announced its quad-core chips.  2011 is shaping up to be the year that phones not only get smart, but they get scary smart.  This very well could be the year I finally look at the non-tech people in my life and reply to them, “Yes, you truly are carrying a computer in your hand.”

What do you think?  Are dual and quad-core chips going to propel smartphones to a whole new level?

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