No-one really knows much about ARMs Eagle CPU design yet. I spotted it on a slide at Computex earlier this year but the only real info available is from a presentation back in 2009. It’s the next-next generation high-end core and likely to be produced in a 28nm process but based on the standard lead-time for an ARM architecture to get into an end product I’d say we’re looking at 2012 and 2013 for this one. Cortex A9 hasn’t been introduced in any products yet and Cortex A8 still has a way to go too. To give you an idea of the end-end timescales for a new CPU design, Ti are only now announcing that they have the license. The deal was made in 2009!
If we project our thoughts 3 years into the future we’re going to be in a time-period where Intel CPU’s are likely to be in smartphones and ARM are likely to be in laptops. We could be looking at MeeGo and WebOS or something completely new. Google OS perhaps? Will Windows still be as dominant or will Android or IOS develop to become a truly productive operating system? I wonder if I’ll still be blogging?
The Omnia HD is something that all MID fans should be taking a close look at. It highlights how close the ARM-based platforms are to Intel’s MID platforms. In fact, in many ways, the Omnia HD looks like one of the best MIDs so far with longer battery life, smaller form factor, 720p video recording and a mobile-focused software suite that addresses new mobile markets. It’s an incredibly converged product but at the same time, you could call it a tweener. Neither a 24/7 phone or high quality mobile internet device.Â I intend to re-visit the Omnia HD by testing it in full in the near future but in the meantime, take a look at the specifications when placed side-by-side with the most popular tablet MID of the day and lets think about how the Omnia HD highlights that there is no such thing as a tweener.
Omnia browsing will fall way short of a desktop experience.
3D graphics: Power VR SGX
3G Graphics: Power VRÂ SGX
Good for navi, web, ereading
A useful, very low power information source. (Local Traffic, news, music, events)
Component, S-video out, VGA
Digital output on Omnia turns it into a better set top box.
Best USB device support
Limited USB device support
If you have USB devices, they are likely to work better with the Viliv S5
Full desktop software capability
Mobile-focused software capability
Viliv S5 allows you to carry on using your desktop software. Desktop software is, however, expensive.
Availability: Limited roll-out
Omnia HD will be widely available
Brand unknown outside Korea
Top-tier global branding.
Provides consumer confidence.
Clearly the Samsung Omnia HD has specifications that are very close to one of the best Intel-based MIDs on the market. You’re looking at an extremely capable hardware platform that provides consumer-focused MID, PMP, PVR and PND-like capabilities in a 24/7 voice-capable form factor.Â It’s also got mature, consumer-friendly mobile-focused software that tackles new mobile usage scnearios and it’s reached the market before anyone else could with Intel-based MIDs that are targeted at the same usage scenarios.Â For some it’s going to be seen as the ultimate converged device and one of the best ‘MIDs’ on the market.
Look at it from another angle though and you see a different story.Â If you want a 24/7 phone,Â the Omnia HD is very very expensive and for most people, too big.Â If you’re looking for the best quality mobile web browser, PND, PMP or microblogging device, it falls short on either screen size, keyboard or software. As with most converged devices, it takes new, exciting usage scenarios and lever’s them into compromised form factors.
What I see with the Samsung Omnia HD is a device that underscores exactly the emergingÂ scenarios that MIDs are targeted at. It’s providing a taster of things to come.Â If these scenarios develop, the new ecosystems created could support dedicated devices that fit in the space between the smartphone and the netbook. With technology like the Texas Instruments OMAP 3 platform and Intel’s Moorestown available to OEMs, it will only be a matter of tweaking the design, the software and applying the right marketing to slot the variants into the new ecosystems.
How about dropping the Omni HD’s internals into a Nokia N810-like form factor and increasing the screen to 4.8â€ with 250 DPI to improve the focus on mobile geo-enabled social networking? How about adding a powerful photo flash and video editing software to enhance mobile photo capabilities and add how about adding a daylight-readable 6″ screen for a move into the ebook market? Think about an iPod Plus, a Kindle with a fast browser and think about the next Nokia Tablet. A Techcrunch Crunchpad orÂ a Google Lattitude SocialÂ Tablet.Â A Canon/YouTube deviceÂ or even a dedicated Vodafone/BBC iPlayer.Â I don’t propose that all of these are winning business opportunities but I bet there are a few opportunitues in that list for dedicated devices that people have called ‘tweeners’ in the past.
The real story here is three-fold. The Omnia HD highlights how advanced and flexible the latest smartphone platforms are.Â It highlights that new usage models are emerging and that if these ecosystems grow, there will be opportunities for dedicated devices. Thank-you Samsung for highlighting that the MID concept is on the right track and that the end of the Tweener-era is nigh.
That’s not me adding the ‘MID’ label there, that’s exactly what Texas Instruments are saying as they announce the OMAP 4 series of platforms.
OMAP 4 is built using the next generation of ARM Cores, Cortex A9 MPCore, which allow for dual-core builds.
Helping Smartphone and Mobile Internet Device (MID) manufacturers shape the future of the mobile market with innovative devices, Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI) (NYSE: TXN) today announced the new OMAPâ„¢ 4 mobile applications platform. The OMAP 4 platform delivers new, stunning, multimedia-rich user experiences such as 1080p video record and playback, 20 megapixel (MP) imaging and approximately a week of audio play time. The new platform provides significant improvements in performance and play time compared to today’s most popular Smartphones, with 10x faster Web page loading times, more than 7x higher computing performance, 6x higher video resolution, 10x better graphics performance and 6x longer audio play time.
The last time I spoke to Ti, their definition of MIDs was slightly wider ranging than the average definition out there and included voice-enabled sliders, tablets and netbooks so you can see why they are giving it such weighting.
Putting the figures into perspective from the above excerpt, I’d say they’re talking about performance levels well above the baseline 800Mhz Silverthorne Atom from Intel. Maybe something around the 1.3Ghz Atom level that we see today. Of course that’s an educated guess. Real-world speed really depends on software and ergonomics in addition to raw power.
There’s a lot of information to digest on the press release and accompanying white papers but don’t worry too much unless you intend to use it in multi-million quantities , it’s initially aimed at large volume wireless carriers and won’t be in production until late 2010. For you, me and the rest of the potential customers out there, we’ve still got the OMAP 3 platform to look forward to. Now where’s that new Nokia Tablet?
Maybe its just something that Intel said but it looks like the Atom vs Cortex (ARM V7) fight is continuing into the next round at MWC. ARM have just send out a press release highlighting that there will be a Cortex-A8 processor vs Intel Atom power comparison on the stand at MWC!
Note that it say’s ‘power’ comparison. Well it’s not exactly hard to demo that one. The best Intel Atom device takes 3-4W. The best Cortex based devices take about 2W under similar usage scenarios. Simple. The problem is, it could take twice as long to do something on a Cortex device. I hope they demo web pages rather than the mostly irrelevant video playback comparison that most companies fall back on. Lets see decoding of a full-screen YouTube SD video in CPU and running 5 tabs of flash-enabled web pages, constantly refreshing!
Other highlights include a Ubuntu 9.04 Alpha release, Cortex A9 demo, Pegatron Netbook.
first public demonstration of two new technologies working together that will be key to the future of the mobile industry: The ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore™ multicore processor delivering notebook performance with the power footprint of mobile, and Symbian OS SMP capability
Launch of wide range of innovative devices including the G1 handset and the first Cortex™-A8 processor-powered mobile phones.
Cortex-A8 processor vs Intel Atom power comparison
Pegatron Netbook running Ubuntu
Ubuntu with Firefox 3
Phoenix Technologies™ Hyperspace™ running on Cortex-A8 processor
Thinkfree™ office suite with Sun’s Java SE on Qualcomm SnapDragon™-powered Inventec Netbook
TI® OMAP™ Zoom2 reference design running Android.
Alpha release of Ubuntu 9.04 for ARM will be shown running on Cortex-A8 processor-based systems. Ubuntu 9.04 is scheduled for full release in April 2009.
No hint of a new Nokia Tablet there but maybe Nokia want to keep it to themselves! Don’t get you’re hopes up too high though. We’re not expecting a new tablet to be available until the summer.