Archive for the ‘ Marvell ’ Category

Integration is winning in smartphone processors

Integration is winning in smartphone processors.

 

Peter Clarke

10/15/2010 5:56 AM EDT


LONDON – Baseband-integrated applications processors are gaining market share in the smartphone market, according to market research firm Strategy Analytics.

The consultancy has said that baseband-integrated applications processors accounted for 28 percent of the total applications processors shipped to smartphones in 2007 and was up to 70 percent in unit terms in the first half of 2010.

The two different partitions cover two different market approaches: baseband-integrated applications processors serve a broad market with a cost competitive solution while stand-alone applications processors tend to serve high-performance devices with support for the latest features. This is because software and its supporting application processors can develop faster than broadband modem requirements.

Baseband integration can result in performance penalties and reduce the flexibility of an applications processor, tying it to a particular air interface. However, Qualcomm and ST-Ericsson are responding to this challenge and attempting to provide leading-edge performance in baseband-integrated chips.

“Qualcomm is driving the baseband-integrated applications processor market and is also closing the performance gap against stand-alone vendors such as Texas Instruments, Nvidia and Samsung,” said analyst Sravan Kundojjala in a statement. “By our estimates, Qualcomm’s smartphone applications processor unit shipment share increased from just 3 percent in 2007 to 19 percent in first half 2010.”

Stuart Robinson, Director of the Handset Component technologies service, said that smartphone OEMs are also divided on this issue with Nokia, RIM and HTC prefering integration while Apple, Samsung and Motorola prefer to use stand-alone applications processors.

Marvell Launches High-End Smartphone Processor – Reviews by PC Magazine

Marvell Launches High-End Smartphone Processor – Reviews by PC Magazine.

In advance of next week’s Mobile World Congress trade show, Marvell on Thursday launched another mobile processor that directly competes with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chipset for smartphones and smartbooks.The Marvell Armada 618 follows up last month’s announcement of the Armada 610 and, like that other chipset, includes a graphics core capable to rendering up to 45 million triangles per second, more than double what the Snapdragon’s core can handle.

“Marvell’s gigahertz-class ARMADA 618 application processor enables next generation smartphones to take a dramatic leap forward into high-end multimedia capabilities incorporating the key pillars of differentiation: gigahertz CPU, 1080p full-HD video, 3D graphics, fastest LP-DDR, and optimized power for longer battery life,” Marvell co-founder Weili Dai said in a press release.

Vivek Chhabra, the head of Marvell’s mobile and cellular business unit, described the 618 as a “high end processor for smartphones,” as opposed to the 610, which at the Consumer Electronics Show seemed to be targeted to a broader market, including e-readers and tablets.

The Armada 618 has an integrated SSD controller and integrated HDMI output, both relatively uncommon features on phones. Chhabra said that SSDs would start appearing in mobile devices soon.

“A few years ago, people said nobody wants to use 12-megapixel camera. The prices of these things come down fast,” Chhabra said.

The 618 can be integrated with 802.11n Wi-Fi support, another feature that will soon become more common in smartphones, Chhabra said.

Like the Snapdragon (which is inside the HTC HD2 and Google Nexus One smartphones) and the TI OMAP3 (inside the Palm Pre, Motorola Droid and Apple iPhone 3GS), the Armada 618 uses the ARMv7 instruction set. Like the Snapdragon, the Armada isn’t a standard ARM Cortex-A8 processor; like Qualcomm, Marvell has a license from ARM which lets them develop their own chip designs that are still compatible with the same code.

The Armada 618’s graphics core is “far better” than the Imagination PowerVR SGX 535 that most analysts say is used in the iPhone 3GS, Chhabra said.

Marvell’s XScale processors once played a major role in the handheld market, but in recent years Samsung, Qualcomm, and TI have all had much more prominence in smartphones.

The new chips are available to manufacturers now, and mobile phone companies have already started integrating them into new products, Chhabra said. Marvell will be demonstrating reference designs for the new chips at MWC next week. We’ll be there.