Freescale Cortex-based netbook at CES. Aiming for sub $200 by end of 2009.

Posted on 05 January 2009, Last updated on 11 November 2019 by

Pegatron will be showing an ARM-based netbook reference design at CES which Freescale think will be thinner, run for 8 hours and will hit the $200 mark by end of 2009.

At its heart, the i.MX51 is designed around a 1-GHz Cortex A8 core, ARM’s most powerful, offering 1.8 times more performance per MHz than the ARM 11 core and roughly 3 times the processor performance of an iPhone, Burchers said. Because the Cortex is an integrated core, with its peripherals built into the chip, the company believes that between 6 to 8 millimeters can be shaved off of the thickness of a netbook, versus an Atom processor, he said.

This will be an interesting one to hear about from CES. How will the Linux-based OS feel? Fast enough? The 1Ghz Cortex core should be capable of returning a reasonable experience but I wouldn’t expect it to be as fast as an Atom-based design. If it’s slick, thin, long-lasting and cheap though, maybe it doesn’t need to be.

Sascha of will be out in Vegas in a few days and promises to report back on this so expect some more detailed news during the CES period later this week.

Update: More news at Cnet.

12 Comments For This Post

  1. Will says:

    End of 2009? It’ll be competing directly with Intel’s next-gen Atom SoC, Pineview. With an integrated memory controller and graphics core, it should draw significantly lower power than Menlow with its 130nm Poulsbo chipset.

    These ARMv7 netbooks will need to be quite special to take any significant marketshare away from x86-based netbooks. Linux-based netbooks haven’t exactly been a hit with consumers.

  2. Chippy says:

    8 hours needs to be turned in 14. 1.2kg needs to be turned in to 800gm and the OS needs to be as slick as slick for the western world. But…
    I think the bulk of sales will go to other markets. India, Africa, Asia. Multi-million sales possibilities for developing areas where people could be using them as their only PC.


  3. Wishmaster says:

    Well if Qualcomm won’t be late this time with their snapdragon1 and if they manage to speed things up with snapdragon2 freescale might lose this battle even before it starts. Personally I hope that thanks to that Freescale chip we will get more interesting devices based on both platforms.

  4. Tero says:

    To get a rough idea of the CPU speed there’s a video of Ubuntu running on Beagle Board (600MHz ARM Cortex-A8) at

  5. John says:

    Wouldn’t have to do much porting, I imagine, to get Android and/or Maemo running on it. Ideally, Maemo with extensions for running Dalvik/Android apps, and OpenPandora apps.

    I hope what they’re going to make is going to be an appropriately sized (for me) convertible tablet, with PCI-Express-Mini slot :-} (I’m gonna start sounding like a broken record on that request, aren’t I?)

  6. icura says:

    ARM netbooks are for a different price-point to Pineview which is a MID SoC. As Chippy points out, it’s for the developing nations or a throw away gimmick for gadget geeks (like me).

  7. Will says:

    The price difference between Diamondville and ARMv7 platforms isn’t that big. According to:

    the difference is only $40 and that is for the current generation Atom. Pineview will be more tightly integrated and should be even cheaper to produce (and will no longer be impeded by the 130nm Poulsbo!).

    I see no reason why ARM netbooks will be significantly cheaper than Intel netbooks considering that you can already get a low-end EeePC for slightly more than $200.

    Does anyone have sales figures for the current ARM11-based “netbooks” in developed and developing countries? I can’t imagine them being that popular even in developing countries.

  8. Charbax says:

    $200 ARM laptops are avilable right now, and ARM Cortex A8 within a few months, not by the end of the year.

    ARM Cortex A8 consumes already 5 times less power then the current generation Intel Atom, which leads to all the price savings and longer battery life, 8 hours minimum, probably over 15 hours with a 6-cell battery and an LED backlit screen. Even more probably over 20 hours with a Pixel Qi screen.

    If you want to promote Intel’s next generation Atom, then think that ARM will have the even more powerful lower power ARM Cortex A9 ready by then.

    If ARM chip makers Texas Instruments, Freescale, Qualcomm plays their cards right, they will sell many more ARM laptops then Intel Atom already this year. Reason is simple, people want cheaper laptops with longer battery life and without those artificial restrictions put on netbooks by Intel and Microsoft.

    One thing is to look forward to 8.9″ ARM laptops, you can also look forward to 15″ ARM laptops with more than 160GB hard drive space and with HDMI or DVI outputs, built-in HSDPA, more powerfull 3D graphics and plenty of other modules and interfaces that Intel and Microsoft have forbidden for netbooks.

  9. Wishmaster says:

    It is all great what you’re saying and I agree with you but we have to remember that hardware alone won’t be successful if the software doesn’t match it capabilities. If WM 6.5 will fill the gap between windows and current winmo then it might sell and good linux could do too but without it I don’t think it will sell well.

  10. DavidC1 says:

    The power consumption advantages aren’t great as you think. That is compounded by the fact that ARM CPUs are already fully integrated SoC devices with everything stripped to minimize power consumption, while Atom has ways to go.

    With a core comparison(so not including SoC components) the 600MHz Cortex A8 isn’t far away from Atom at 600MHz for power consumption. What Atom lacks is the good SoC implementation.

    Intel has the most advanced process technology in the world, and the scale of the manufacturing allows the costs to be cheap. Recent analyzation put Intel’s 65nm wafer significantly cheaper to produce than AMD’s(it was 1.8x more for AMD). They recently unveiled 45nm process with low leakage aimed at SoC.

    The biggest thing about Atom is the software base. Atom might not take all marketshare but the software advantage is tremendous.

    In the high-end, Nehalem is about to shake the server market with extremely scalable and high performance x86 processors.

    Who knows?? We might see a similar thing happen in the low power market.

  11. says:

    and then you have all the battery life saved on hardware wasted by unoptimized software…

  12. AC says:

    I’d like to see a ‘netbook’ with a 15 inch 1280×720 16:9 LCD with LED backlights, and a minimum 8-hour battery life (by 8 hours of life, I don’t mean 3 hours of working and 5 hours of sleeping – like on other ‘netbooks’, I want 8 FULL hours). I don’t care if it uses Linux or Windows – considering what Microsoft is planning on doing with Windows 7, I think I may prefer Linux in the near future. And, I’d like S-video and VGA out ports – I don’t want HDMI (DRM? no thanks – it needs to actually work when *I* want it to, in whatever way *I* want it to).

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