Tag Archive | "freescale"

Amtek Prepping 5 Tablets for Computex

It there is one thing we know about JKK of JKKmobile, it’s his uncanny ability to cover huge amounts of distance at technology shows and exhibitions to produce first-look videos, by the bucket load so when he posts the following about Amtek prepping not 1 or 2 tablets but an incredible 5, we know we are in for a interesting Computex;


Firstly there is the iTablet Speed-Lite (AE03), packing a Nvidia Tegra 2 1Ghz, 1GB RAM, 2MP camera, 10.1 inch multi touch display and WiFi. Then there is the iTablet Ex-Lite II (AE04), wielding a Freescale 800MHz CPU, 512MB RAM, 2MP camera, 10.1 inch multi touch display and WiFi also. Both of these come with a choice of either WindowsCE 6.0R3/7.0, Android 2.0 or Linux and have options for bluetooth, 3G connectivity and GPS.

To add to these is the iTablet Lite (TZ10), sporting an Intel® Atom Menlow-XL Z530 1.6GHz CPU, 2GB of RAM, 10.1 inch multi touch display, 2MP camera, WiFi, 4200mAh battery, Windows 7 and a choice of either a 1.8 inch IDE HDD or a 64GB SSD.

Then the icing on the tablet cake in the form of T23A CULV tablet PC and the T23x CULV Series. All of which have Core 2 Duo 743 1.30GHz Intel Montevina Platform CPU’s, 2GB of RAM, 1.3MP cameras, 2.5 inch SATA HDD’s from 160GB to 320GB and coming with a choice of either a 12.1 inch XGA digitizer, touch or digitizer and touch screens.

If that doesn’t get your tablet juices going then head over to JKKmobile for the full specifications and pictures.

amtek_AE03 amtek_AE04 amtek_TZ10amtek_T23A amtek_T23X

ARM Products and Platforms Primer and Resource List for Mobile Internet Devices in 2010. (Updated)

This article is updated from Jan 2010. See below for history.

The ecosystem around ARM, its designs and licensee products can be difficult to understand so I’ve been researching the current status and have summarized the important products, brands and technologies in the article below. You’ll find details on all the important keywords and technologies, links to all the important CPUs and platforms, a reading list and some ‘tip’s’ for CES2010 which starts this week. All the information is based on my own knowledge and research so if you spot any errors, please be sure to let us all know in the comments. I know there are some CPU designers and ARM partners reading this site so again, if there’s anything that needs changing or adding, please help us all by adding a comment below.


Overview of processor architectures in current ARM products

For the purposes of this article I’m ignoring anything other than ARM v7 architecture CPUs. In my opinion and experience the previous (ARMv6, ARMv5) designs don’t provide the processing power needed for the quality web experience expected in  MIDs. Note: Tegra (current version 2009) is an ARM11 multi-core CPU  implementation based on ARMv6 architecture. I expect Nvidia to move to ARMv7 in their next Tegra product.

ARM v7 is a CPU architecture, not a CPU.

ARM V7 is a processor architecture. It’s a design that belongs to ARM and it can be used to build CPUs that can process around 2 Dhrystone MIPS/Mhz. (Wikipedia – Dhrystone) That’s about 2000 DMIPs/Ghz which is not far from the processing power achieved by simple, non-hyperthreading Intel Atom cores also used in MIDs. DMIPs processor performance is not the only measurement of device speed but it’s a good starting point and is relevant to web rendering and web applications.

Processing power

In general, the architecture is being used to make CPUs and platforms running at between 600-1000Mhz (about 1200-2000 DMIPs) although there is one known implementation that has been tested at over 2Ghz. Power consumption per core is said to be around 300mw per 2000DMIPs using the latest manufacturing processes although this figure can vary greatly depending on implementation.

Remember that the CPU core takes only a small percentage of the power drain in a working device where the total in-use power budget including screen lighting, radios, audio, gpu, storage and DC components can span from 2W to 10W. (Texas instruments thinks that a 1W MID is possible though)

In comparison with the Intel Atom CPU the ARM v7 architecture can be used to make CPUs that consume about 1/3 – 1/5th of the power of an Intel Atom CPU for the same DMIPs computing power.

ARMv7 can also be used to make multi-core CPUs where up to 4 cores can be used to provide over 8000 DMIPS of computing power. (Assuming the software is built to handle multi-processing hardware)

(Further note: All these figures based on research, marketing figures, experience, testing and technical documents that I have read during this research.)

ARM does not manufacture CPUs.

The architecture created by ARM is used to do two things:

  • The architecture is used by ARM themselves to make a complete processor implementation which may include other ARM property. The CPU implementation is then licensed out to third parties who can either mass produce the CPU or build and manufacture complete computing platforms including graphics, sound, power, memory, etc. One example is the Ti OMAP 3 and 4-series platforms.
  • The architecture gets licensed out to third parties who make their own processors and platforms based on it. One example is the Qualcomm Snapdragon platform.

ARM have a number of processors that they’ve built using ARMv7 architecture and all fall under the ‘Cortex’ brand. There are real-time and highly embedded versions but the ‘A’ versions are the ones that interesting for general mobile computing tasks. ARM have three versions of the CPU. The A8 (currently in products), A9 (high end, multi-core capable due in products in 2010) and A5 (small, low-cost, due in products in late 2010) versions


When final products are completed by licensees you will often see them marketed under different brands. This is where it gets very confusing so I’ve listed most of the main players below along with notes and links to their various products and brands. Note that some ARM licensees are not made public and therefore no information is available.

ARM Cortex A8

ARM has 9 licencees. 8 are public.

Cortex A8 Product brief (PDF)

Licensee notes.

  • Ti OMAP 3 platforms 34xx 35xx 36xx  using Cortex A8 CPU core up to 800Mhz. Used in Nokia N900, Archos 5 devices for example.
  • Freescale iMX5 family of CPUs based on Cortex A8. Use in the Sharp Netwalker for example. iMX515 is focused at mobile internet and includes graphics co-processing.
  • Samsung. S5PC100 application processor includes the Cortex A8 CPU core (E.g. Odroid)
  • Samsung / Intrinsity – Hummingbird A very specific implementation of the Cortex Core using a tightly defined manufacturing process.
  • Zii Labs ZMS08 Core of the ‘stem cell’ computing platform. (Q1 2010 volume shipment) 1Ghz implementation.
  • Matsushita (Panasonic) Details unknown.
  • PMC-Sierra (storage, switching, routing solutions) Details unknown.

Cortex A9 (Multi-core capable)

Cortex A9 Product information (PDF)

ARM has 9 licencees. 6 are public.

Licensee notes.

  • Ti OMAP Dual-core 44xx platform. Full production expected 2H 2010.
  • ST Electronics Cortex A8 licensee (set top boxes)
  • St Ericsson – U8500 Dual Cortex A9/HSPA Modem platform. (Note Nokia and Symbian will be using this and it includes a Mali GPU and 1080p recording capability)
  • Broadcom (ARM news. No products announced yet.)
  • Nvidia Tegra 2 Dual-core
  • NEC Electronics. No information available.
  • Update: 28 Jan 2010. It appears that Apple may have licensed Cortex A9 for the iPad A4 CPU. (Source) Update: It’s ARMv7. Apples own implementation.

Cortex A9 MPCore Hard Macro – 2Ghz implementation of Cortex A9 using specific TSMC silicon manufacturing process.

Cortex A5

Cortex A5 is a multi-core, low cost ARM V7 implementation previously known as Sparrow.

Link to ARM information

No known implementations at present.

Other ARM v7 implementations:

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon platform (QSD8x50) uses single core CPU (Scorpion) based on ARMv7 architecture.
  • Qualcomm QSD8672 dual core platform at up to 1.5Ghz.
  • Marvell Armada 500 / 510 platform (PDF product brief) Up to 1.2Ghz

Notes for CES 2010 (UPDATED)

Key platform announcements to watch out for at CES 2010. Expect demonstrator products planned for 2H 2010. (All Cortex A9)

  • Nvidia Tegra 2 – Announced.
  • Ti OMAP 44xx – No news.
  • St Ericsson U8500 – Demonstrated by Movial on a set top box.

Expected in MIDs and smartbooks shipping in 1H 2010 on the following platforms. (Single core ARmv7 and Cortex A8 implementations.)

  • Freescale iMX5
  • Ti OMAP 3
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon
  • Nvidia Tegra
  • Zii Labs ZMS08

Product rumors / expectations: CES 2010.

Further reading:

Update: ARM presentation at CES.

I had a chat with ARM at CES and they followed up by sending me a PDF. Here’s one slide from that PDF that is directly relevant here. It lists ‘candidate’ platforms for Mobile Computing. We listed all of these platforms above but it’s good to know what ARM sees at potential platforms.

Click to Enlarge.

Note to PR agencies for ARM ecosystem partners. Put one twitter/web address in the comments and we’ll add it to the further reading list.

If you find the information useful for your work, please consider a small donation to help us continue the work. UMPCPortal is independent and funded purely through donations and advertising revenue.  Many thanks

Updated: 14th Jan 2010

Updated: 18th Jan 2010 (added ARM slide)

Updated: 28 Jan 2010 (added possible Apple licensee (for A4 processor) information.

Updated: 12 May 2010 with more product information

Images of the Freescale Smartbook Reference Design

Sascha and Nicole from netbooknews.com kindly invited me to join them for a meeting with Freescale this morning. I have a video that i’ll process later but in the meantime, here are some pics. Note that this is a reference design, not the final sexy variant that you might find in the shops.

More information about the reference design can be found in a article we posted a few days ago.

Full gallery here.

IMG_1757 IMG_1755 IMG_1756

Sascha and Nicole from netbooknews.com kindly invited me to join them for a meeting with Freescale this morning. I have a video that i’ll process later but in the meantime, here are some pics. Note that this is a reference design, not the final sexy variant that you might find in the shops.

Freescale Offers Smartbook Reference Design

While I was researching the ARM platforms over the last two days [report] I came across a presentation from Freescale’s Steve Sperle that outlined their research into new consumer form factors. The presentation shows a number of form factors and summarizes that the small form factor, 4×6 inch screen without full qwerty keyboard is one of the best form factors for the next generation of young users.

You can resister and get to the interesting presentation here.

Today Freescale have announced what is clearly the next stage of work from the same project team. It’s a reference design for a 7 inch (roughly 4 inchx6 inch) ‘smart’ tablet computer. The SABRE tablet platform for smartbooks.

Freescale Press Release here.



Smartbook reference design features

  • Size: small/thin form factor (200mm x 128mm x 14.9cm and weighing 376 grams); no need for fan or heat sink
  • Processor: Freescale i.MX515 applications processor provides high performance and low power
    • ARM Cortex-A8 core
    • OpenVG & OpenGL/ES graphics cores
    • HD video decoder hardware
  • Power management IC:
    • Battery charging system for both USB and wall charging
    • Output buck converters for the processor core and memory
    • Boost converters for LCD backlighting
    • Serial backlight drivers for displays and keypad, plus RGB LED drivers
  • Display: 7-inch (1024 x 600) touch screen
  • Memory: 512 MB DDR2
  • Storage: 4-64 GB internal storage; removable micro SD
  • Connectivity: 3G modem (option) 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1, GPS, RF4CE (option)
  • Ports: USB 2.0 and USB mini (also for charging), audio in/audio out, SIM card
  • Audio: speaker, microphone
  • Camera: 3 Mpixel (video recording up to VGA @ 30fps)
  • Battery: 1900mAh, USB charging
  • Sensors: MMA8450Q 3-axis accelerometer and an ambient light sensor

Looking not unlike an Origami ultra mobile PC from 2006, this has a vastly different hardware and software build designed to hit low-cost pricing with a lightweight build and dynamic, media and location-focused capabilities.

The CPU is ARM-based (Cortex A8 design) and there’s 512MB of memory (which is actually quite a lot for a device using a smartphone-style platform.) Storage is solid-state and there’s support for 3G, Wifi, Bluetooth, GPS, RF4CE (radio remote control) an accelerometer and light sensor.

The software stack is likely to be a Linux build.

The reference design will be available at CES and Freescale say that availability for evaluation is expected in Feb 2010.

We’ll be keeping our eyes open for this at CES over the next week.

Sharp’s 5-inch NetWalker MID Arrives. Ticking the Carrypad Boxes!

Engadget have just posted an article on this rather interesting MID / Carrypad-like device that should challenge the UMID that Ben is currently testing. The Sharp Netwalker PCZ1

Sharp PCZ1 ARM-based smartbook running Ubuntu

Sharp PCZ1 ARM-based smartbook running Ubuntu

This isn’t an Intel-based MID device but with the Cortex-based CPU and desktop OS it should be of interest to the same target audience. I’m analysing the details right now but so far it’s looking good. Check out the gallery and the information at Engadget while I get the details together for the database. Update: It’s in the database now.

800MHz Freescale i.MX515 CPU built around the ARM Cortex-A8 architecture, 512MB of memory, 4GB of on-board flash storage (with microSDHC expansion for another 16GB), 802.11b/g WiFi, 2x USB, and QWERTY keyboard going 68 percent of full-size. Sorry, no 3G data. The PC-Z1 features a 3-second quick launch, non-removable 10-hour battery

Sharp’s 5-inch PC-Z1 NetWalker honors Zaurus legacy with touchscreen Ubuntu.

Update: More images over at Nebooked

Pegatron and Freescale. More pics from Engadget. Video from Notebooks

Engadget seem quite impressed with the Pegatron Freescale-based netbooks. 8.9-inch screen, 8 hour battery life, 8GB of storage and retail prices near the $199 mark. Pegatron will be working with Ubuntu to get the ARM-compatable distribution cleaned up and ready for a late Spring launch.

Maybe it’s just the design that Engadget are impressed with though. “The limitation here is obviously straight-up processing power — it’s not very impressive, and certainly slower than Intel’s Atom” say Engadget but it’s clear (check the video below) that it’s a whole lot faster than ARM devices we’ve seen in the past. Cortex A8 seems to be hitting the right mark.

Pics and more commentary at Engadget.

Pegatron and Freescale team for low-power, ultra-cheap netbooks and nettops – Engadget.

Video below from Notebooks.com shows the device in action.

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