Monday is a national holiday in the U.S., but it will be a busy day in
Barcelona, Spain, which is hosting GSMA
Mobile World Congress — one of the largest mobile phone trade conferences.
More than 1,300 firms will be represented at the show, and three chipmakers — Intel (NASDAQ: INTC), ARM and nVidia (NASDAQ: NVDA) — will be making announcements of new chip products or extended support.
ARM, best known as the developer of an embedded processor that licensees can modify for their own product needs, will announce it is making the move to 32 nanometers (nm) with a high-k metal gate process.
Both represent advanced technology that ARM can take advantage of because it’s a member of IBM’s IBM Common Platform alliance, which also includes AMD. ARM Partners will have access to the technology in 2009, with full production release in early 2010.
The 32nm design will be used in the Cortex-A9 processor, which can be tied together at a microarchitecture level to yield a multi-core configuration. ARM licensees can, if they want, connect up to four Cortex-A9 cores and make their own quad-core product, depending on where it is used. That could add even greater flexibility to a processor core already known for the large amounts that licensees already often add to it. nVidia’s Tegra chip, for instance, uses the ARM 11 design along with many of nVidia’s own ingredients.
“This new design means we can offer processors that are faster, smaller and consume less power,” said James Bruce, manager of North American mobile solutions for ARM. “These process leaps really do help us and help the phone industry deliver features that weren’t possible a generation or two before.”
Cortex licensees get the Physical IP prototype libraries as well as test structures for validating the technology. The core IP includes logic, memory and interface products.
nVidia gets in on Google Android, cheap MIDs
Chipmaker nVidia is talking up its work with Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) and the Open Handset Alliance to qualify the Android open mobile phone software stack with nVidia’s Tegra series of SoC processors.
The current Android phone by HTC, the G1, uses a Qualcomm ARM-derivative processor. Tegra offers additional, built-in features like high-definition video and Internet connectivity for access to Web content and services, as well as location-based applications.
“We welcome nVidia’s support of Android on Tegra and we look forward to many more Android-based devices that deliver an outstanding consumer experience,” Andy Rubin, Google’s senior director of mobile platforms, said in a statement.
Page 2: Cheap mobile Internet devices, plus Intel’s plans.
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nVidia also announced a new version of the Tegra, the 600 series, which use a system-on-a-chip designs for mobile internet devices (MID)
that can go days between battery charges.
Mike Rayfield, general manager of the mobile business unit at nVidia, said he envisions the 600 series’ smaller, more efficient design allowing for $99 high-definition MIDs with many hours of performance life.
“The next generation of high-definition content is Web and connected activities, and bringing it down to this price point will allow it to take off like the handset market did ten years ago,” he said during a conference call with reporters to discuss the new processor.
“For it to work, it has to be in very low-power devices,” he added. “These [chips] are made for days of use. They allow people to watch movies, surf the Web, do the things as much as they want and not worry about being able to return e-mails.”
The Tegra MID delivers 720p and 1080p high-definition video playback, Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity, optimized hardware support for Web 2.0 applications and a complete software solution stack for developing Windows Embedded CE OS to run on the chip.
Intel brings out “Moorestown”
LG Electronics and Intel are announcing at the show plans to collaborate on MIDs based on Intel’s next-generation Atom system on a chip (SoC) platform, codenamed “Moorestown,”
and the Linux-based Moblin v2.0 software platform. The LG device is expected to be one of the first Moorestown designs to market.
“Moorestown” is the codename for Intel’s next-generation, Atom-based SoC that integrates the processor core, graphics, video and memory controller on a single, low-power chip.
The new LG device will also be one of the first to use Moblin v2.0, the Linux operating system designed specifically to deliver a great PC-like Internet experience while also supporting mobile phone voice capabilities.
The Moorestown-based LG MID platform is expected to come to market by 2010.