newest member of the EEE PC family, powered by the Qualcomm SnapDragon system-on-a-chip and Google's Android OS for mobile devices. The Qualcomm Snapdragon SoC incoroporates an ARM11 core operating ag 1 GHz (future models will be running at 1.3 GHz), an integrated 600 MHz DSP (a coprocessor for math, audio, and 3D acceleration), as well as embedded hardware video codecs, enabling this processor to support HD video of 720p (later models with 1080p). This netbook also offers always-up connectivity with an integrated internationally-compatible 3G modem, as well as the standard 802.11g wireless connectivity. The full spec list is available here. However, the kicker in favour of ARM-based netbooks is their power efficiency. The Qualcomm-powered EEE PC is expected to boast a battery life of 8 to 10 hours on a single charge!
ARM based processors are what power 99% of today's cellular phones and mobile electronics, such as the iPhone. As one might expect, there is no room for a heat sink or fan in a mobile phone. Therefore, ARM engineers and their licensees have taken power efficiency to a whole new level with this technology. Aside from the impressive multimedia and gaming capabilities, and like most ARM-based SoCs, all of the transistor logic for the CPU, co-processor, and peripheral devices is integrated onto a single wafer of silicon, hence the term 'system-on-a-chip'. Its as if the video, sound, network, PCIe controller, memory controllers, etc, etc, etc, were crammed onto a single package. For comparison, a similar netbook platform, based on the Intel architecture, would occupy at least three, but more commonly four or more chips, resulting in a drastically larger amount of power dissipated as heat.
The 1GHz barrier for ARM chips was first traversed commercially by Marvell, with their Shiva-Plug. Texas Instruments had reached milestones even earlier with their OMAP line of chips which power devices such as the BeagleBoard development board and the OpenPandora mobile gaming platform. The Qualcomm-powered EEE PC is not the first ARM-powered netbook though; some people may still have their eyes on the Always Innovating TouchBook, which is also powered by the familiar OMAP processor. However, if ASUS blesses this marriage of ARM and Android in their cathedrals of manufacturing, then the new Qualcomm-powered ASUS EEE PC might be the first ARM-powered netbook that hits the mass market.