SAN FRANCISCO—In addition to a dual-core Tegra 2 applications processor from Nvidia Corp., Motorola Mobility Inc.'s Xoom media tablet includes a four-chip touch screen controller solution from Atmel Corp. and MEMS sensors from AKM Semiconductor Inc., Kionx Inc., STMicroelectronics NV and Bosch Sensortec GmbH, according to a preliminary teardown analysis by market research firm IHS iSuppli.
The Motorola Xoom, now available in the U.S. through Verizon Wireless, features a 10.1-inch widescreen HD display and is the first available device to run version 3.0 of Google Inc.'s Android, codenamed Honeycomb. Xoom retails for $599 with a two-year Verizon service agreement, and $799 without a service contract. Pricing for the Verizon 3G data service begins at $20 per month. Xoom tablets can be upgraded to Verizon's 4G LTE service at no extra charge beginning in the second quarter, though this requires a physical change to the tablet's hardware.
According to IHS, the Xoom closely approximates Apple Inc.'s iPad in size and weight. But while the iPad lacks a camera, the Xoom includes both a 2-megapixel front-facing camera and a 5-megapixel auto focus primary camera, IHS noted.
IHS further noted that Xoom is available only in one configuration, with 32GB of NAND storage.
As has been previously reported, the Xoom features a dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor, the processor chosen by Google for the Android 3.0 reference platform. The Xoom also features 1GB of SDRAM for code storage, four times as much as the iPad, according to IHS.
IHS said using the dual-core, ARM-based Tegra 2 enables the Xoom to run processes and software much faster than iPad. IHS said its teardown team discovered the same chip last year in an Android-based Toshiba AC100 smartbook. Tegra 2 is known to have nabbed several other design wins, including LG Electronics Co.'s Optimus Pad and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.'s Galaxy Tab 10.1 and tablets from Acer and ASUS.
According to IHS, Tegra 2 provides very competitive performance relative to traditional microprocessors found in netbook PCs, which compete with media tablets.
The teardown found no 4G components in the Xoom aside from a dummy miniPCIe card, which is a placeholder for the LTE upgrade. This, the firm said, is the reason that Xoom owners must surrender their tablets back to the factory for a physical upgrade to 4G networking. Motorola did provide two MIMO antennas and a SIM card slot in preparation for the LTE upgrade, IHS said.
The Xoom uses the Atmel mXT1386 touch screen controller, a new 32-bit device capable of registering up to 16 discrete touch points, IHS. While IHS has previously identified single-chip Atmel touch screen controllers in Android smart phones, this solution contains a whopping four-chip solution from Atmel.
IHS said the Xoom "seems to be pushing the bounds for integrating a large number of sensors in a tablet." In addition to the CMOS image camera sensors, Xoom includes an electronic compass from AKM Semiconductor, a 3-axis accelerometer from Kionix, a 3-axis gyroscope from STMicroelectronics and a pressure monitor from Bosch Sensortec, the firm said.
According to IHS microelectromechanical sensor expert Jérémie Bouchaud, the Bosch Sensortec pressure sensor works in conjunction with the Xoom's GPS system for indoor navigation applications.
Hmm, snap on hardware. I guess the tablets are kinda open system for software apps, but are they open for hardware accessories? Reminds me of when the IBM PC and the Apple Mac (Lisa?) were first introduced. The IBM was an open system and Apple was closed to hardware modifications and enhancements.
So, this is the ipad clone to be precise. It has everything in ipad sans itunes. But that won't make it a deal breaker, in fact the camera and extra memory itself make it appealing and add to that the faster processors.
I like the feature set but am wondering why the 4G upgrade is not ready now? It would seem to be a drawback to send the device away for retrofitting the 4G when everything else is in place. Would it be possible for an owner to insert the card or possibly a local electronics retailer to provide an on site retro? I am wondering why they chose a 4 chip solution, is there a significant feature improvement over a single chip (or is it because the 4 chip solution was cheaper due to having more board space)?
Multiple chip solution is the industry norm right now for capacitive touchscreen for screen bigger than 7". Cypress has announced a single-chip solution and others may have plans for that too. 2011 is going to be a bloody battle among Cypress, Atmel & others for cost & footprint reduction of touchscreen controllers while providing same or better features (stylus, hover etc). I believe by mid 2012 or latest by end of 2012, touchscreen controller market will be commoditized. Question is what will be the path of innovation? Support for detecting 10-fingers is already available. Support for stylus, proximity sense is there too. What would be the new features that either users or system makers demand?
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