PORTLAND, Ore. Seeking to attract more electronic book and newspaper customers, Freescale Semiconductor is collaborating with E Ink Corp. on a new SoC that integrates Freescale's microcontroller with a display driver.
The partners said the SoC will offer e-book makers a 20 percent cost savings, a three-fold increase in speed and the flexibility to build not only e-books but also tablet PCs, laptop secondary displays and e-notepads.
"E Ink and Freescale are teaming up to produce a new line of system-on-chip processors with the display controller incorporated onboard," said Glen Burchers, marketing director of Freescale's Consumer Segment. "We can shrink the bill of materials for an e-book by 20 percent."
Added Sriram Peruvemba, vice president of marketing for E Ink: "We expect this joint development work with Freescale to not only help the current e-book market, but enable us to expand into new application areas like larger displays for e-newspapers and more rugged displays for e-textbooks."
The combined unit shipments of all types of e-readers was only 1 million units in 2008, but is expected to grow to over 75 million units and $3.8 billion by 2018, according to DisplaySearch (Austin, Texas). Freescale claims that forecast is conservative, and that the e-reader market could grow to 100 million units before 2018.
"We see the market this year tripling over last year," said Burchers. "We think that rate of growth can continue."
The e-book SoC, which will officially debut in 2010, will be based on a next-generation ARM processor core based on 65-nm process technology that runs at a higher clock speed than Freescale's current i.MX processors.
"Our SoC will yield e-books with much faster rendering, especially for PDFs," claimed Burchers.
Currently, e-book vendors like Amazon (Kindle) and Sony combine Freescale's i.MX microcontroller with a Vizplex display driver chip made by Epson. Freescale's SoC will integrate display driver functions with an i.MX microcontroller.