PORTLAND, Ore.—Freescale Semiconductor Inc. claims to be the first chip maker to offer quad-core processors for high-end consumer electronic devices, including recording/playback of 3D video, augmented reality, mobile gaming and driver-information systems. The company's new i.MX6 series offers three price/performance levels with one-, two- and four-core models, allowing original equipment manufacturers to design once, but deploy many models.
"We are the only processor manufacturer who has a multi-core platform available in three flavors, one-, two- or four-cores," said Glen Burchers, Freescale's marketing director for the consumer segment. "By offering single-, dual- and quad-core processors, OEMs can do the software one time and spin out three different products at the good, better and best segmentation levels."
Freescale is already targeting e-readers, shipments of which were projected to top 11.5 million units in 2010 and rise to 35 million by 2014 according to In-Stat LLC (Scottsdale, Ariz.). Touchscreen tablets, according to In-Stat, will likewise rise from 13.7 million units in 2010 to over 58 million in 2014. Freescale claims its new i.MX6 offers these OEMs a five-fold speedup over its current generation of i.MX processors that already power the lion's share of the e-reader and touchscreen-tablet markets.
"Freescale processors now power 11 Android-based shipping tablets and we will be showing a total of 23 tablets at CES," said Burchers. "And that is in addition to our leadership in e-readers, where we supply the processors for the first, third and fourth most popular e-readers—the only one we are not in is the Barnes and Noble [Nook]," said Burchers.
The i.MX6 dual and quad versions also include three separate graphics cores—a 3-D core, a 2-D core and a bit-blip engine to off-load the 3-D graphics core for gaming apps. Both high-end processors can handle simultaneous playback and recording of 1080p stereoscopic 3-D video, as well as the tactical overlays required for augmented reality apps. Complex augmented reality apps can dedicate one core to location calculations, one to processing live video and a third to overlaying the tactical information on the live video feed.
All i.MX6 models use the latest ARM Cortex-A9 cores running at over 1GHz using a system-on-chip platform with common software and development tool compatibility, integrated power management, integrated I/O and pin compatibility within previous i.MX processors. Freescale claims that the ultra-low-power of its i.MX6 will allow mobile consumer electronic devices to extend their battery power for up to 24 hours of HD video playback or 30-plus days of standby power.
Great news. I guess they are trying to do an nVdia by releasing a Quadcore far ahead of market heats up. Anyways hope to see quad core tablets running Android soon. Since Freescale didnt have serious market share in tablets, they didnt have to worry about cannibalizing existing dual core market.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.