Maybe the toughest part about being the world's No. 1 chip maker is that everyone's gunning for your market share. That's certainly the case with Intel, which not only has to fend off AMD, but a suddenly spunky ARM corporation as well.
ARM, which has plans of being a major player in the emerging tablet market, is also reportedly in talks with Google over supplying chips for Google TV, according to Yahoo News.
"We are talking to Google, but we have nothing to announce right now," said Tudor Brown, President of ARM.
The Google TV platform comes with a rather strict set of hardware requirements, one of those being an Intel Atom processor. Part of what's interesting in this potential development is that ARM builds RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computing) chips, whereas Intel's Atom part is built on the tried and true x86 architecture. Making a switch post-launch would mean rewriting some of the software.
Nevertheless, Brown feels confident his company's low-power processors are the better fit for Google TV
"If Google TV is to be mainstream, it must be built on a lower power system... on lower cost technology," Brown said.
AMD, Intel, and Nvidia rule the desktop graphics scene, but in the consumer electronics world, ARM flexes its muscle with the best of them. Towards that end, ARM today unveiled its new Mali T604 GPU with up to 5 times better performance than current Mali graphics chips, the company claims.
"Visual computing is driving the next generation of consumer electronics, as consumers and developers demand the highest levels of graphics performance," said Lance Howarth, EVP and general manager, Media Processing Division, ARM. "The tri-pipe architecture in the Mali T604 provides both market leading compute functionality and high-performance graphics without compromise, enabling unequaled user experiences in energy-efficient consumer electronic devices."
As Howarth aludes to, the scalable, multicore chip employs an tri-pipe graphics architecture that, along with other patented techniques, reduces memory bandwidth consumption by up to 30 percent, which ARM says substantially improves system level energy efficiency.
The Mali T604 chip will find its way into a variety of CE devices, including smartphones, tablets, DTVs, automotive infotainment systems, and other high-end digital gadgets. That's good news, given the GPU's supposed ability to process 4X full scene anti-aliasing (FSAA) "with minimal performance drop."
Most of the tablet PCs we're likely to see in the coming months will be running on ARM-based CPUs. In fact, most mobile devices use these chips. The mobile CPUs from companies like Qualcomm and Samsung are often based on ARM designed cores. Intel has been looking to move their Atom low-power chips into phones and tablets, but hasn't had much success yet. According to the Financial Times, ARM is not being sheepish when it comes to talking about the competition.
ARM CEO Warren East said of Intel's Atom chips in mobile devices, "Atom designs are just not good enough in terms of power consumption." Intel might be missing the boat because of this. Gartner is expecting 54 million tablet devices to be sold in 2011. Intel is not usually one to give up on a market, but time may be running out. Intel CEO Paul Otellini has previously said Intel will do whatever it takes to secure the mobile Market. We wish them luck; they're going to need it.
Do you like your tablet screens at 7 inches or 10.1? How about your tablet OS—Windows or Android? And what about the CPU—Intel Atom or a trusty, ARM-based system-on-chip? Within the next few months, ViewSonic will be offering two new tablets bearing various combinations of hardware specs that check all of the boxes above.
The ViewPad 7 includes 3G data connectivity, doesn't include freakishly well-manicured hand.
Let’s start with the smaller ViewPad 7, which should be shipping late Q4 this year at a street price of $479. The ViewPad 7 will have a 7-inch, 800x480 touch screen, and run Android 2.2 on top of a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon SoC. There’s 512MB of onboard memory, and a microSD slot grants up to 32GB of additional storage space. A rear-facing camera will clock in at 3MP, and a front-facing chat cam will be a wee 0.3MP.
For more on the ViewPad 7, and details on the Windows-packing ViewPad 10, hit the "Read More" button.
How do you defend your market share and fend off the likes the Intel? Make your chips faster and more flexible. That's exactly what ARM intends to do as it gears up to add multithreading support to upcoming architectures, the company said.
The decision to add multithreading isn't just about fending off Intel, but also a necessary element for ARM to move into other areas, like servers and high-end computing.
"We're looking at how we can address certain markets in the networking space that could potentially use multithreading in a way that is more beneficial," said Kumaran Siva, segment marketing manager at ARM.
Oversimplified, multithreading describes a technique for single processor cores to break up tasks into threads and work on them concurrently, ultimately improving performance.
"They have no choice but to move to multithreading. Of course, they then have to get the various OSes to take full advantage of the multithreading, but I think that would happen easily," said Jack Gold, principal analyst at J. Gold Associates.
This is why we love technology. While the world salivates over the concept of dual-core processors in mobile applications like smartphones and tablets, Marvell goes and introduces the first ever 1.5GHz tri-core ARM processor, the AMRADA 628.
The ARMADA 628 is a System-on-a-Chip (SoC) design with three ARM-compliant CPU cores, two of which are high performance symmetric multiprocessing cores, while the third is optimized for ultra-low power. It also boasts a bit of 3D muscle.
"Marvell has once again set the benchmark for the rest of the industry with the world's first 1.5GHz tri-core processor, delivering dual stream 1080p 3D video and 3D graphics performance with quad unified shaders for 200 million triangles per second delivered on ultra-low power, long battery life smartphones and tablets," said Weili Dai, Marvell, Co-founder and Vice President and General Manager of Marvell Semiconductor's Consumer and Computing Business Unit. "This is important because today's consumers expect robust enterprise and consumer applications delivered to the palm of their hands."
Marvell likens the tri-core architecture to that of a hybrid muscle car. The chip can "perform like a race car engine on demand, while still delivering the frugal gas mileage of a hybrid automobile." In real-world numbers, Marvell says the ARMADA 628 can churn out 10 hours of full 1080p HD video or 140 hours of music on a single charge, all the while providing 3GHz of computational horsepower.
It can be argued that British chip designer ARM is perhaps one of the most self-effacing tech companies out there. Quite a rarity in a world where big tech firms are always on the lookout for opportunities to draw attention to themselves and their products. But with its customers already selling 4 billion chips a year, the Cambridge-based outfit can not possibly evade the limelight.
ARM's latest attempt at modesty is, well, very modest. Although it currently doesn't – and may never – measure up to Intel in terms of vital business statistics, but the fact is its chip designs are virtually everywhere, and they already pose a huge threat to Intel's hegemony by the virtue of their ubiquity alone.
Chips based on this new multi-core design will be able to run at speeds of up to 2.5GHz. Performance-wise, the Cortex-A15 MPCore is said to be five times better than contemporary smartphone processors. The Cortex-A15 MPCore processor is now available for licensing to “and is targeted at manufacture in 32nm, 28nm and future geometries,” ARM announced on Wednesday.
“The launch of the Cortex-A15 MPCore processor marks the beginning of an entirely new era for the ARM Partnership. It brings together more than 20 years of ARM expertise in low-power design with a host of new and very aggressive high-performance technologies,” said Mike Inglis, EVP and GM, Processor Division, ARM.
The first batch of products featuring chips based on the A15 architecture aren't expected to come out before the end of 2012.
Samsung on Tuesday introduced its new dual-core 1GHz ARM Cortex A9-based processor designed for mobile applications. If all goes to plan, you'll soon seen this spunky chip in a variety of devices, including tablets, netbooks, and even smartphones.
"Consumers are demanding the full web experience without compromise while on the go," said Dojun Rhee, vice president of Marketing, System LSI Division, Samsung Electronics. "Given this trend, mobile device designers need an application processor platform that delivers superb multimedia performance, fast CPU processing speed, and abundant memory bandwidth. Samsung's newest dual core application processor chip is designed specifically to fulfill such stringent performance requirements while maintaining long battery life."
Built on a 45nm manufacturing process, the Orion processor, as it's being called, comes with two cores clocked at 1GHz, each with 32KB data cache and a 32KB instruction cache. There's also 1MB of L2 cache to help speed things up, Samsung says.
Interestingly, Orion also comes with an onboard native triple display controller architecture, so that a device equipped with this chip could support two on-device display screens and still have the chops to drive a third external display, like a TV or monitor via on-chip HDMI.
Select customers will get their hands on the new chip in the fourth quarter of 2010, with mass production to follow in the first half of 2011.
During this week's Global Technology Conference, GlobalFoundries unveiled the world's first 28nm ARM Cortex-A9 processor platform with High-K Metal Gate (HKMG) technology.
"This is a significant milestone on the road to high-volume 28nm manufacturing and technology leadership for next-generation products ranging from smart mobile devices to high-performance wired applications," said Mojy Chian, senior vice president of design enablement at GlobalFoundries. "By working closely with ARM in the early stages of technology qualification, we will enable our customers to rapidly bring their ARM Cortex-A9 designs with ARM physical IP to production by setting a new standard for performance and power-efficiency."
GlobalFoundries says its new production capabilities will "enable smooth ramp-up and faster time to market" for its customers, and will enable a 40 percent increase in computer performance, a 30 percent power savings, and a 100 percent increase in standby battery life compared to 40nm technology.
Looking ahead, GlobalFoundries has set a goal to deliver 20nm technology to customers by 2013.