PARIS In an interview with EE Times, Laurent Remont, director, R&D/Architecture Group, Home Entertainment and Displays Group at STMicroelectronics NV (Geneva, Switzerland), provided details on ST's decision to build its next-generation HDTV consumer device around the high-performance ARM architecture.
The flexibility, software ecosystem, processing performances and power consumption efficiencies of ARM Cortex-A9 multicore processor were determinant in ST's licensing choice for its next-generation set-top-box and digital TV system-on-chip (SoC) ICs, said Remont.
He declared: "We have more and more connected platforms where we run new services that were not driven in the past especially in the TV. The TV was pure broadcasting four years ago then we started to add IPTV in it. Now, we are starting to add full open Internet services. Clearly, this is changing the picture in terms of processing performances. Intel has seen that, and we have seen that as well. We have already pushed performances and multiplied by a factor three the CPU performance."
Asked if ST had considered adopting Intel Atom, often tipped as a rival to Cortex-A9, Remont replied negatively and noted that "from the value benchmark we have done, it is clear that the Cortex-A9 is superior to Intel Atom in terms of processing performances and power consumption efficiency."
ST's strategy, Remont explained, is to encourage alignment between the mobile phone and other applications. "We see not the devices themselves converging but clearly the services that you run on devices such as TVs, mobile phones or even in automotive. What we have announced here on the TV and STB goes in this direction, enabling more convergence between various types of devices and leveraging the software ecosystem that you may have between these devices."
In its description of the Cortex-A9 MPCore, ARM highlighted the flexibility and scalability advantages that allow optimizing development costs by addressing the requirements of wireless applications from a common core platform. To this, Remont said flexibility is one reason for ST's choice as, with the Neon extension, ARM Cortex-A9 enables new features in the platform to be quickly developed. The others, he added, are the software ecosystem, processor performances and power consumption efficiencies.
The Cortex-A9 microprocessor core can contain up to four independently-configured cores carrying out multiple tasks on each one in parallel. A uniprocessor software model is possible by utilizing one of the many SMP-aware operating systems, ARM said. A single core Cortex-A9 processor is capable of delivering twice the performance of currently available smartphone processors and a four-CPU Cortex-A9 processor cluster is capable of delivering 10,000 aggregate DMIPS when clocked at 1-GHz.