ARM has been showing off reference designs for smartbooks and Google Android-based mobile phones based around its low-power processors. In total, 60 hardware manufacturers are demonstrating products based on ARM processors at this week's Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona.

The first dual-core ARM processor, the Cortex A9, is being demonstrated in Google Android-based smartphones and ARM expects the first handsets based on it to be onsale by the end of this year. At nVidia's stand, the ARM-powered dual-core Tegra Mobile Web Processor is on show. The processor, which supports Adobe Flash 10.1 and Full HD video playback, was first unveiled last month at CES. 

Mobile processors are set to get far more powerful very quickly. There has been a four-fold increase in power since early 2007, when the first Google Android handsets launched. Come 2011, the first quad-core mobile processors will launch. NEC has already been working on a product based on a multi-core version of the ARM Cortex A9.

Not everything is about more power, however. Smartphones are coming down in price and becoming mass-market devices. To cater for the demand for less expensive smartphones, ARM has developed a DIY smartphone kit for developers based around its Cortex A8 chip. This is designed to offer an "easy and low cost entry" to smartphone development, one that could soon usher in the $100 to $150 smartphone, ARM spokesman James Bruce told PC Advisor. Rather than hardware designers having to spend large amounts of money on prototypes of their proposed smartphone designs, using the ARM chip they will instead be able to quickly come up with a working model.

Most of the new designs being showcased, however, continue the large touchscreen theme. Of particular note is the yet-to-launch Lenovo Skylight which takes an ARM processor and runs Adobe AIR applications, rather than traditional desktop ones.

Earlier today Adobe demonstrated Adobe Connect Pro, a multi-person remote video-conferencing and remote desktop application that can be used across multiple devices including laptops, smartbooks, smartphones and desktop PCs and Macs.

See also:

What to expect from mobile processors in 2010

Google Nexus One Android smartphone review