LONDON – Wireless chip vendor ST-Ericsson has launched a series of application processors called Nova, modems under the name Thor, and multi-chip platforms under the name NovaThor. However, despite including LTE modems in its mix there was no quad-core processor. Both Nvidia and Qualcomm have announced, and in one-case demonstrated, quad-core application processors.
ST-Ericsson's NovaThor platforms combine application engines, modems and connectivity chips into integrated and tested chipsets, which device manufacturers can use in smartphones and tablets. In laying out its roadmap ST-Ericsson has continued to use ARM for its main application processor but is using both Imagination PowerVR and ARM Mali graphics cores in different chips.
The NovaThor U9500 combines the Thor M5730 with the Nova A9500 in a single die and is sampling now. The NovaThor T5008 platform combines a TD-HSPA+ modem with dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 and Mali 400 graphics. It is due to sample in Q2 2011. The NovaThor U4500 platform combines a Cortex-A9 based application processor with a HSPA+ modem. It samples in the first half of this year.
The three application processors announced this week are the Nova A9600, A9540, A9500 together with two modems the Thor M7400 and M7300.
The A9600, being manufactured in 28-nm CMOS, is an implementation of a dual-core Cortex-A15 with each core running up to 2.5-GHz clock frequency. The chip also includes a PowerVR Series 6 GPU codenamed, Rogue, that delivers in excess of 210-GFLOPS of graphics performance. The Nova A9600 is expected to bring more than a 20-fold improvement in graphics performance compared with the U8500 platform.
ST-Ericsson has also unveiled the Nova A9540, a dual-core ARM Cortex- A9-based processor, implemented in 32-nm CMOS, running at up to 1.8 GHz The Nova A9500, built in 45-nm CMOS, has the same processing engine but running at up to 1.2-GHz, with Mali 400 graphics. It is sampling and in design with ST-Ericsson customers today.
ST-Ericsson's Thor modems, the Thor M7400 and the Thor M7300, support the latest LTE and HSPA+ dual carrier technologies, while preserving backward compatibility with existing 3G/2G networks, in a radio that supports up to eight LTE/WCDMA/GSM frequency bands.