Tag Archive | "snapdragon"

Compaq Airlife 100 Open Review. Recordings now available.

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IMG_3315 Thanks to over 500 people that stepped into the live Open Review of the Compaq Airlife 100 yesterday. We spent 2.5 hours going over the device and tested as much as we could. Thanks also to JKKMobile for joining-in via Skype and helping out. During the session we made three live recordings which are now available at Ustream. They’re relatively long but hopefully interesting to people looking towards the ‘smart’ devices sector. There’s a lot to learn from this ‘always-on’ device segment.

I’ve embedded part 1 of the session below and the links to the two extended segments are included below that. Check back on Carrypad tomorrow for a review article.

Full specifications, gallery and articles list is available in our Airlife 100 tracking page.

Part 2 is available here. (More general testing. Q&A.)

Part 3 is available here. (Video, audio testing. Apps testing)

Note that while Ustream provides a fantastic free live streaming service, streaming of recorded videos is sometimes a little hit-and-miss in our experience. Early morning viewing is recommended!

Compaq Airlife 100 Unboxing, Overview, Demo

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As promised in the last post, I’ve unboxed the Compaq Airlife 100 that turned up today. It’s 20 minutes long but is detailed and shows some of the features of the device including browsing and application installing. Tonight (18th May) at 2200 CEST I’ll be doing a live session with the Airlife so please, drop in and ask questions. More details about the live session in the last post.

The recordings of the Open Review are available in the Meet:Mobility UStream Channel. I’m writing a full review right now. Expected to be posted on Thursday 20th May.

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

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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

The Xperia X10 Mini Tablet. Some Even Call It a Phone!

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X10compare The core of a ‘smart’ device or consumer tablet/netbook  is the software and despite its shortcomings, the iPhone OS is recognised as the market leader. Android isn’t far behind though and for some, the multitasking and ‘openness’ put it way into the lead. If you want the best Android experience out there, you’ve got to look slightly below the handheld tablet and smartbook category at the new high-end smartphones that are appearing. The Droid/Milestone, Nexus 1, HTC Desire and Xperia X10 are fast, fluid and a lot of fun. Only 10 days ago I bough an Xperia X10 and I’ve been writing about it on a sub-blog at XperiaX10.Carrypad.com Yesterday evening I posted the second part of my first impressions.

Overall it’s an impressive bit of kit with a fast browser, great daylight camera, enjoyable UI and of course, seamless access to Google applications and the thousands of Google Marketplace applications.

It’s a highly converged device and for anyone looking for the ultimate in web-capable smartphones, it’s up there with the best of them but I can’t help thinking that it would be even more enjoyable if it were simply a handheld tablet rather than a smartphone. On a 5” screen the experience would be way more useful/readable and the on screen keyboard would be much easier to type on. Finger-sized icons and menu items would take less effective screen space and there would be space for a battery that would last more than the 9-12hours that I get out of the X10 when I start using it like it should be.

I discussed the topic of convergence over at UMPCPortal and put the argument forward that I might be better off with something bigger and a separate phone but right now there isn’t much choice out there so the question is, do I keep the X10 or sell it and drop back to my trusty N82 while I wait?

Of course, that’s just me. I know that the majority of people out there just want one device if possible and if that you, take a closer look at the XperiaX10 blog because I’m continuing to test the device from every perspective. I’ll also be interested to hear from Droid/Milestone, Nexus One, Desire owners too. How do you feel about total convergence?

Snapdragon-based Compaq Airlife 100 Offers Something Special.

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IMG_2049 ‘Always-on’ is going to be a seriously important weapon in the fight for the netbook market for ARM-based ‘smart’ devices. I’m 100% sure that the first manufacturer that brings this seamless experience to customers in a fast, well-designed, well-priced device will cause waves in the netbook market. Customers that switch to the ‘always-on’ model aren’t going to go back to anything less.

Not only is always-on going to allow mail and social network polling and instant-use scenarios, it’s also going to enable a whole new range of applications. From a simple alarm clock to video and voice calling, these applications just won’t be possible on Intel-based netbooks with the current platform.

I spent a long time with the Airlife 100 today. It’s a 100% ARM (Snapdragon 1Ghz) ‘smart’ device being offered by Telefonica in Spain. Pricing and availability is not known at the moment but we’re estimating that this one will be free on a 24-month contract.

The 10-minute video below shows the user interface, applications and a look round the design of the device.

Dell Mini 5 Demonstrated by Its Maker. Price Confusion Follows.

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dell mini 5 Three stories merged into one today when Techcrunch posted a 30-second demo video by Michael Dell proving that the Dell Mini 5 exists and will be out in a ‘couple of months.’  (MWC, CeBIT?) Techcrunch also added (‘recap’ was the word they used) some information from the Tihnte teardown and an interesting Chinese PC Online story (translation) that talks about a prototype Dell Mini 5 called the M101M. Apparently this was picked up on the black market for over $1000 which is clearly not the price it’s going to hit the ground with. Based on the (similar) HTC HD2 it could reach $700 but with the Archos 5 8GB [info] at around $300 and the iPad 3G 16GB [info] at $629 it would be crazy to ask for such a price; especially given the Dell Mini (low-cost) brand.

If we were to guess at a price we’d say $499 but we see a sweeter spot for this at the $399 level.

Specs seen so far:

  • 1Ghz Snadragon
  • 4.8” 800×480 capacative touchscreen
  • 5.5Wh battery
  • 5MP cam with LED flash
  • Android OS
  • 2 x MicroSD slots
  • 3G, Wifi. BT

Via Slashgear.

Powerful, Value, Acer Liquid (A1) Now Available in EU. Review from FRAndroid.

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The Milestone/Droid and iPhone 3GS are already with us and showing the way forward for powerful, dynamic and fun smartphones. But what if you’ don’t want to pay 450-800 Euros for a phone?

The Acer A1 Liquid is offering high-power (768Mhz Snapdragon platform), big screen, Android-based capability for an early price of just 360 Euros. That’s a price we expect to drop down to the low 300’s before long making it a real bargain. When did you last see a 3G-capable, WVGA capacitive touch, 5Mp, high-power platform with a huge application library for that sort of price?

Obviously the Liquid could fall flat on its face if it fails to offer the quality that’s expected and that’s what we’ve been looking for in the first reviews. Frandroid is one of the first and via a translation we’ve been able to pick out some important points.

Image via Frandroid

A video review is embedded below but you’ll probably pick up more from the translation which highlights tight battery life and size as negative points. It is indeed a rather chunky device but if you’re looking for a good value, all-day high-end smartphone, it’s still an important one to have on the toplist, especially if you’re looking to get into the world of high-powered Android devices.

Outstanding questions for us:

  • Camera quality
  • Haptic feedback
  • Actual battery life figures

6 WVGA Smartphones that Push The Mobile Web Envelope.

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Finally, after years of waiting and wishing, I can finally say that there are smartphones on the market that offer fast, high quality internet experiences and offer the web-focused user a converged product on which they can do tasks that, until now, required a true mobile computer. In this article I take a look at 6 of the best.


Read the full story

Verizon Droid. Android 2.0 MIDPhone…with Google Maps Navigation Beta.


Encompassing much of what the MID market stands for and reaching out in terms of screen size and CPU power to become a very interesting contender is the Verizon / Motorola Droid.

$300 + a 24 month commitment brings you the ‘phone’ and you’ll get $100 back if you remember to mail-in the coupon.


Read the full story

MIDs approaching from the Smartphone market.

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htcleoLocation, Entertainment, Connectivity and Productivity. The four elements of a MID as proposed by Intel a few years ago (March 2007 although the label was ‘UMPC’ at that point. It changed to ‘MID’ a month later) It’s clear that it’s a winning combination because a lot of people appear to be moving in to cover the same ground.

With the Web and social networking being two of the biggest growth areas in mobile computing we’re now seeing smartphone manufacturers addressing the area and the rumoured HTC Leo is a prime example.

4.3” screen, 800×480 resolution and a high-end Snapdragon processor in a stylish pocketable format. Sounds like a MID to me!

With an efficient ARM platform battery life should be reasonable and with the Windows 6.5 OS there’s a lot of application options too but will the built-in browser or Opera 9.5 mobile be enough? Without flash there’s going to be a huge chunk of the internet missing too. How’s the speed going to be? Devices like this and the Toshiba TG01 will be good benchmarks to compare against Intel MIDs against in the coming months, especially those based on the voice-capable Moorestown platform due by the end of 2009.

Intel isn’t alone in the MID market now and as it moves to a smartphone-capable platform, the mitts will be off for an all-out competition. Consumers only stand to benefit as the best of technology is paraded before them. The market should receive a boost as a result of the competition too so it’s great to see that the MID category has the seal of approval from everyone!

HTC Leo news. Via.

Rumour Pic: HTC Leo with MIDPhone Specs.


The discussion of what is and isn’t a MID will continue forever but I guarantee that most people would say ‘yes’ to this being one. It’s a rumored device from HTC called ‘Leo’ I mentioned it briefly in a ‘MIDPhone’ post a few weeks ago but there’s now an image showing a candybar (or possible slider?) phone and some great MID-centric specs to consider.

htc leo1

Snapdragon MSM 8250 1Ghz

Display 4,3″ 480*800 capacitance touch-screen

512 ROM and 320 RAM

Camera 8mp with autofocus

Wi-Fi, A-GPS Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, support GSM/EDGE, HSDPA

3,5mm Jack

MicroSD Slot

G-Sensor, motion sensor and light sensor

Manilla (TouchFlo) 2.5

Quite a tasty line-up don’t you think? Apart from the OS. Manilla means Windows Mobile and although I don’t mind Windows Mobile, the OSK isn’t up to the quality of the Android or iPhone keyboards so I’d rather be using it with a slide-out keyboard.

Android on a Snapdragon platform with a 4.3” WVGA screen, high quality cam would probably satisfy my desires for 2009 and early 2010 but it looks like it isn’t to be just yet. It’s the Omnia Pro or the Nokia Rover on the top of my list right now.

Via Slashgear.

Windows Mobile 7 ‘Chassis 1’ Hardware.

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mondi-right-thumb ZDnet posted some information about a rumored ‘Chassis 1′ specification for Windows 7 mobile phones yesterday and although it’s great to see, it looks like a list of the hardware that many of us in the ultra mobile PC and MID community have been been talking about for the last few years. It’s basically a list of currently available mobile technology and includes ARMV6+ processor, 800×480 multi-touch, 3MP cam, compass, accelerometer, light Sensor, high speed USB, BT2.1 and fast SSD. The other interesting spec is a screen size of 3.5” or more. 

ARMV6 is not exactly thrilling but the ‘+’ would indicate that Microsoft are going to build WM7 for the Cortex architecture meaning ARMv7 and high-end platforms like Snapdragon, Tegra and OMAP.

What we don’t know is what the software layer is going to be like and that’s arguably the most important element.