ARMathon at MWC next week

More speed, more cores, more fun

ARM LOOKS SET to have field day at the Mobile World Congress next week as its licensees show off new products. Today Marvell released details of upcoming products that looks set to draw a lot of attention for different reasons. On top of that, both NEC and Texas Instruments are set to show off new products at the show.

First up is Marvell which is set to unveil its new flagship Armada 618 SoC which incorporates a 1GHz ARM v7 – that’s the same core as in the ARM Cortex – Sheeva based processor as well as Marvell’s Qdeo video acceleration technology which allows for encoding and decoding of 1080p high profile h.264 video at 30fps. The 618 also has a custom 3D engine that can render 45 million triangles per second.

The GPU features “a complete floating point pipeline and unified vertex and fragment/pixel shading” and it support OpenGL ES 2.0 and 1.1 as well and Open VG and DirectX. The press release also claims that the video engine can output to four displays simultaneously at up to 2Kx2K resolution which sounds better than most PC graphics cards, although this is of course only in 2D.

Marvell has also kitted out the 618 with support for 16 Megapixel camera sensors, a custom audio processing engine for low power audio playback. The 618 also supports LP-DDR or LP-DDR2 memory with speeds of up to 533MHz. Linux, Android and Windows Mobile are operating systems of choice and the 618 offers full Adobe Flash support. Not a bad little chip overall and we can’t wait to see this one appear in some high-end devices, although considering the lead time on most devices that would be powered by it, we’re unlikely to see any until next year at the earliest.

Marvell also announced its new low-cost platform called Pantheon which is set to make $99 Smartphones a possibility without the need of network subsidies. The company didn’t release a lot of details, although it stated that the Pantheon platform will “include powerful application processors, field-hardened cellular modems, radio frequency devices, intelligent power management, power-efficient WiFi/Bluetooth/FM connectivity“. Marvell will also be providing software and system expertise to reduce the time to market for devices based on the platform.

NEC on the other hand is set to go head to head with Marvell, as the company is readying a quad-core Cortex-A9 based SoC. The new solution is said to be showcased at the ARM booth during MWC next week. The difference here is that NEC seems to be targeting its quad-core processor towards the mobile device space rather than the embedded market. Marvell on the other hand isn’t targeting the mobile market with its recently announced quad-core ARM solution.

In related news Texas Instruments is also said to be showing off a new dual-core Omap-4 processor at MWC, although we haven’t managed to dig up any details on this processor. Speaking of ARM based, HP Compaq is set to unveil the Airlife 100 which is a Smartbook based on the Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and it’s set to be running Android. From what is known about it, it’ll feature a 10.1-inch display, a built in 3G modem, a 16GB SSD and a 12-hour battery life in use, or 10 days in standby mode. It looks like next week will be an interesting week and we’ll do our best to keep up with the announcements at MWC.S|A

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