Researchers at Intel envision a future where smartphones are powerful enough to perform tasks typically delegated to full-size computers today. And it’s not just a pipe dream either - they’re already working on a 48-core processor for smartphones and tablets designed to replace your desktop or laptop completely.

Intel’s focus on the project at this point is finding new ways to manage and use multiple cores in a mobile device. Smartphones and tablets already exist with multiple cores (up to four, typically) but a system with 48 cores would be a real game changer.

The advantage of having multiple cores, of course, is the ability to divide the workload up among each core. This has several benefits, just as it does today. For one, heavy computational tasks can be completed much more quickly. A system with dozens of cores would be able to multitask much more efficiently than today’s chips that often struggle to complete several tasks at once.

Multimedia would also benefit greatly as multiple cores could be used to decode different video frames simultaneously, resulting in a smoother and more seamless experience. Furthermore, by reducing the strain on a single core and spreading the workload among many parallel cores, less energy would be consumed overall.

Researchers anticipate having such a chip ready for prime time within five to 10 years although Intel CTO Justin Rattner said it could hit the market much sooner than forecasted. He believes that advanced features and functions like speech recognition and augmented reality will accelerate the drive for more processing power.