Sparrow-based Nokia MID. Did Someone see the 2009 Nokia Tablet?

Posted on 26 February 2009 by

Before I say why I think Eldar Martazin didn’t see a 2011 Nokia MID, let me take the chance to tell you a little bit about ARM’s ‘Sparrow’ platform.

When I first heard news about it a few weeks ago I was a little confused about where it was positioned on the scale of ARM cores as it looked to overlap the ARM11 MPCore designs. I fired off a query to a contact in ARM and they came back with some information that has enabled me to better position it.

It’s a symmetric multi-processing platform that uses cheap (read simple) cores with the ARM V7 instructions set used in the high-end Cortex cores. I liken it to a multi-core Atom CPU which is focusing on cheap, small, low-power and ‘reasonable’ performance. ARM say that it will enable performance as you see today in the high-end Cortex devices at a much lower cost. The multi-processing element will, I assume, allow cores to be dialled in and out for either power-saving or processing power. Its going to offer 2009 high-end performance at feature-phone sizes and prices.

It’s scheduled for 2011 which means that it will hit the market when Cortex A8 and A9 devices are available and, because of it’s instruction-set comparability with those platforms, will allow ARM partners to create smaller, cheaper devices for the mass market and use existing operating systems and applications.

So let’s go back to the Nokia story.

Mobile Industry journalist Eldar Murtazin (Russian) says he saw a Nokia Computer based on Sparrow. Unwired view posted about it this morning, added a mock-up image (that I’m not posting here so that it doesn’t put ideas in your head!) and after reading through all the details, I can’t help thinking that Eldar might have been looking at a 2009 device and not a 2011 device. Why? Nokia are expected to release a new Maemo-based device this year and 2011 is just too far out for a working proto, especially when Sparrow probably won’t even sample until 2010. Eldar describes a Linux-based device (Maemo of course) with a passing resemblance to the N800 that has a multi-way tilt/slide keyboard with a diamond pattern layout.

To me, that sounds like a device that’s less than 2 years away from reality. Why would you design a multi-way tilt/slid keyboard device and wait two years to bring it to market when you’re already working on an OMAP 3 / Maemo device and your existing MIDs are becoming long in the tooth? I think Eldar saw the 2009 Nokia Tablet/MID and someone, somewhere, got the lines crossed when talking about ARM’s 2011 Sparrow platform.

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  • Steve ‘Chippy’ Paine

    Sparrow-based Nokia MID. Did Someone see the 2009 Nokia Tablet?


    you may be right there, they could have at the same time presented a product planned for this year, and make noises about what kind of stuff they will be using to make similar devices 1+ year onwards…

    in any case, chaper always sounds good to me ;)

  • Well, I may have lost something in translation, but Eldar was pretty explicit that he was talking about 2011 device. And it’s a very early proto. One mistake in my article was to say that it already runs on Sparrow CPU’s. Actually it runs on prototypes of Sparrow CPU

    I’ll try to do exact quote/translation here:

    ” At the congress I was able to play for the first time with the first computers from one small company, who is the market leader, what’s more – these are computers based on the prototype Sparrow. Sparrow are new generation of multicore processors from ARM. The specs are simply a blow-out. But it’s the year 2011 and all of this runs on Linux…”

    Then they go on to figure out that this small company is Nokia, without mentioning it’s name.

    One more tid bit, that I did not figure out was that when the host asked – “What it is that blew you out – the CPU itself, the speed?” The answer was:

    “Not only. The sppeed is just, just… First – Linux that runs on it .. it’s an assembly from the model 950, so it is impossible to see the actual speed, it is totally not optimized for the CPU…”

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