SAN JOSE, Calif. In the wake of its acquisition of Sigmatel, Freescale Semiconductor is rolling out the first in a series of applications processors targeted at specific market segments. The Freescale i.MX37 uses new video and imaging blocks to attack high end media players and navigation devices.
Over the next six months, the company expects to follow up the launch with at least two more processors designed by Freescale, one at the bleeding edge of performance. The processors rolling out this year were already in the works before Freescale acquired Sigmatel in February for $110 million in cash.
Following the merger, the existing Freescale i.MX product team moved into Sigmatel's offices. The combined group is now hammering out a new road map that bridges offerings from the two companies.
Sigmatel's products cover entry-level, audio only and quarter-VGA video chips, often aimed at using silicon integration to lowest bill of materials cost. Freescale's i.MX family is aimed at higher-end capabilities, typically focused on flexibility through programmable cores.
The i.MX37, officially debuting May 27, is Freescale's first to use hardware acceleration to deliver D1-resolution video and 24-bit color depth images on an XGA-class wide screen display. The chip can play audio at a 15 milliW power consumption level and D1 video on a wide screen VGA display at about 130 milliW. It supports a variety of codecs including H.264 and Windows Media Video.
The chip is based around an ARM1176JZF-S core running at up to 532 MHz at 1.0 volts. An existing Freescale crossbar interconnects the accelerator blocks and CPU.
The i.MX37 also integrates a PAL/NTSC encoder with triple video DACs to support analog TV output without external components. In addition, upgraded peripherals now support the CE-ATA hard disk interface as well as multi-level NAND flash and faster mobile DDR memory.
Freescale is not publically quoting prices for the device which is sampling to select customers now and will be in production in the fall. A board support package includes a Linux kernel, codecs, drivers and some middleware for supporting video. The chip also supports Microsoft's Windows CE.
"This is the first in a series of application-specific parts for targeted markets," said Dan Loop, i.MX product manager at Freescale. The company has disclosed the device to select OEMs, but now will publically announce it, using the Computex trade show in Taipei as a launching pad.
Loop said the chip could be used in a wide range of portable MP3 and video players, a market expected to ship as many as 300 million units this year. It is also targeted at the growing number of portable navigation devices.