Intel's planned fight against ARM in the ultra-portable market just got that little bit harder, with ARM licensee Qualcomm announcing a new Snapdragon CPU due to ship towards the end of this year.

With the company's 1GHz Snapdragon already a staple in several top-end handsets, Qualcomm is generally considered to be a market leader for smartphone processors - but its latest model looks set to leave that standing.

According to an article over on Computerworld, the company will be launching its QSD8672 in the fourth quarter of this year, and the specs should give Intel cause for concern: the latest Snapdragon chip will be a dual-core beast running at 1.5GHz.

As well as top-end smartphones, Qualcomm is looking to capitalise on the success of Apple's iPad, with vice-president Mark Frankel stating that the chips will find their way into slates and - if he has his way - low-cost laptops.

To keep power consumption at a minimum - despite the aging 45nm process on which the chip is based - Qualcomm has added the ability to scale the voltage and clockspeed of each core independently, while Frankel adds that 1080p video playback will be possible without needing a separate decoder chip.

While a high-speed 1080p-compatible ARM processor is enough to give x86 market leader Intel cause for concern, there's more bad news for the chip giant: VentureBeat reports that fresh young start-up Smooth-Stone has raised the capital it requires to launch a line of ARM-based server processors - taking the fight to Intel's core business.

With Intel making its first tentative steps into the ultra-low-power market, it looks like the company is going to be fighting ARM on several battlegrounds - and for once, Intel isn't likely to be the obvious victor.

Do you think that ARM can ever challenge x86 outside of specialist areas such as smartphones and set-top boxes, or will Intel always have desktops and servers to fall back on? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

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