TI ARM Processor Targets Smartphones, Tablets, Notebooks - InformationWeek

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TI ARM Processor Targets Smartphones, Tablets, Notebooks

Texas Instrument's OMAP 4470 processor is powered by a pair of 1-GHz ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore engines and two 266-MHz ARM Cortex-M3 cores for multimedia performance.

Texas Instruments unveiled OMAP 4470 processor, a new addition to its OMAP 4 family of ARM-based processors that's geared toward smartphones, tablets, and ultra-thin notebooks.

The multicore OMAP 4470 processor is powered by a pair of 1-GHz ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore engines and two 266-MHz ARM Cortex-M3 cores for multimedia performance. It runs at 1.8 GHz, an increase from the 1.5-GHz OMAP 4460 processor released last year and featured in the Blackberry PlayBook tablet.

One of the key features of the new OMAP processor is a hardware composition engine that frees the GPU from compositing and blending multiple layers of content, and it also reduces energy consumption.

"This hardware comp engine allows us to blend various windows and all the various layers that go into the user interface in today's operating systems and blend them together very efficiently and smoothly, even at large display sizes," Mark Granger, head of OMAP platform marketing for TI's wireless business unit, said in an interview.

When it comes to multimedia processing, the processor features an Imagination PowerVR SGX544 graphics core that represents a two-and-a-half times increase in graphics processing performance compared with the 4460, which helps with rich visual effects and gaming, Granger said. The PowerVR SGX544 is similar to the SGX543 used in the Apple iPad 2, but is a newer version.

The new processor also has a higher memory bandwidth through dual-channel, 466-MHz LPDDR2 memory that enables rendering and compositing of multilayer high-resolution content. "We've increased the system bandwidth to 466 MHz and that really helps ease bottlenecks in the system to make a highly fluid user interface and user experience," Granger said.

The OMAP 4470 will begin appearing in phones and tablets during the first half of 2012, while devices featuring the 1.5 GHz, dual-core OMAP 4460 will appear later this year. Texas Instruments plans to announce a next-generation OMAP 5 series during the second half of next year. The OMAP 4470 is also compatible with Windows 8 and Netflix, a move that Texas Instruments will find strong competition.

As Windows 8 generates buzz, chip manufacturers are racing to position themselves in the upcoming Windows tablet computers, which is compatible with both ARM and x86 platforms. AMD, Qualcomm, Nvidia, Texas Instruments, and Intel are all hoping to get their chips into the new Windows platform.

AMD announced Wednesday a new Z-series Fusion accelerated processing unit (APU), code-named "Desna," aimed at the Windows-based tablet market.

Meanwhile, Qualcomm introduced its dual-core MSM8960 Snapdragon processor for Windows 8 devices. The chip has a speed up of to 2.5 GHz and integrates both 3G and LTE. Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs said that 250 devices based on the company's Snapdragon processor are being developed, in addition to 125 that have already been announced, reported Bloomberg.

Also, Nvidia's new Kal-El processor was recently announced running on four CPU cores and 12 GPU cores, with five times the performance of its Tegra 2 chips used in some Android tablets.

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