Coming to a smartphone or tablet near you… It can deliver dual stream, 1080p 3D video on mobile devices without expensing much battery life. In fact, an Armada-equipped smartphone would be able to play 10 hours straight of 1080p HD video or 140 hours of music on a single charge. Pretty impressive stuff…
Any company who can achieve that is worth a look. The company is Marvell Technology Group (MRVL), it’s the company that supplies the chips for the Blackberry.
Marvell Unleashes 1.5 GHz Triple-Core Mobile Processor
Mark Kurlyandchik – September 23, 2010 8:03 AM
Because three chips are better than two
While dual-core smartphones have been touted as the wave of the near-future by companies like Samsung and LG, chip manufacturer Marvell has leapfrogged the others with the announcement of the world’s first tri-core processor.
The Armada 628 is an “ultra-low power, ultra-high performance” 1.5 GHz three-core processor that is the “first to feature 3D graphics performance with quad unified shaders for 200 million triangles per second delivered on mobile devices,” Marvell announced in a press release this morning.
The holy trinity of the Armada is made of two symmetric multiprocessing cores with a third, ultra low-power core that is designed for routine tasks. The third core acts as a system manager “to monitor and dynamically scale power and performance.”
The Armada 628 is also the first to incorporate a System-on-a-Chip (SoC) design with three ARM cores and six additional processing engines, totaling nine dedicated core functions. It can deliver dual stream, 1080p 3D video on mobile devices without expensing much battery life. In fact, an Armada-equipped smartphone would be able to play 10 hours straight of 1080p HD video or 140 hours of music on a single charge.
“Marvell’s groundbreaking tri-core architecture is a unique solution to a long-time problem—how to achieve enterprise performance without breaking the limited power budget of smartphones, tablets and other mobile consumer devices,” said analyst Linley Gwennap in the press release.
Some other key features of the Armada 628:
- Up to 1.5 GHz for the two main cores and 624 MHz for the third low power core
- “Heterogeneous multiprocessing” with “hardware-based Cache Coherence”
- 1 MB System Level 2 Cache
- Platform leading multimedia capabilities, including support for both WMMX2 and NEON acceleration; and a highly optimized pipelined VFPv3 floating point engine
- High performance, integrated image signal processor (ISP)
- Ability to project images on multiple simultaneous displays
- 2 LCDs
- 1 HDMI
- 1 advanced EPD controller
- Peripherals support: USB 3.0 Superspeed Client, MIPI CSI, MIPI DSI, HDMI with integrated PHY, UniPro, Slimbus, SPMI
The Armada 628 will also be the first mobile CPU to offer USB 3.0. It is compatible with RIM OS, Android, Linux, Windows Mobile, and full Adobe Flash. The CPU is currently available for sampling to customers. No word yet on when we can expect it to power smartphones or netbooks in the U.S. market.
———-[End of article]———-
We have to say that this is hugely impressive, on paper. Not even Intel chips support USB3.0 yet, for instance. Could they take on the established mobile chip makers (or designers, as ARM doesn’t produce its own chips) Qualcomms, the Samsungs and ARM’s of this world?
If they can, they arrive at exactly the right time, with the smartphone, and tablet markets exploding (demand for flash memory is expected to fourfold on these, for instance!)
Analysts have guessed their earnings pretty accurately, so we can take their $1.62 for next year (99c this year) with some degree of comfort.
It hasn’t really been going anywhere this year:
Some more interesting stuff:
- Brocade is pretty happy with them
- Notes from their shareholder meeting (some interesting tidbits in there)
- Debt free and a stash of cash (previous link)
- Someone (and not just anyone, Cohen is a pretty savy tech observer) argued it was a screaming buy early July
- Something we like a bit less, the hard-disk market is more than half their revenues (see previous link) and they had a little headwind from there in the latest quarter (see CC transcript). But they have way more dynamic sectors (mobile and wireless) that grow in importance for revenue and profits.
- Expected entry into China next year through collaboration with China Mobile, the worlds largest mobile telecom (previous link)
- And they’re going to more than doubling their research efforts in Shanghai
- And it’s powering the rumored Blackberry tablet
- Of coarse the latest earnings call transcript (Q2)
More interesting is that the 3 year chart also shows little progress. Of course this is largely due to the recession (depression?), but not such a surprise as in 2007 it was still loss making and their main business (systems on a chip, or SoC, for the harddisk market is a rather mature market).
Still, we think that with chips like the Armada featured in the article above, this company could very well be set for more exciting times. We have to wait a little to see the acceptance of the Armada, but you have to keep in mind this is no start-up, but an established company with serious customers. That usually helps acceptance of what seems to be leapfrog technology like the Armada.