SAN JOSE, Calif. Marvell Technology Group Ltd. is pushing its Sheeva ARM core to GHz levels in the first of a family of integrated processors aimed at consumer and embedded systems. The PXA168 debuting at the Consumer Electronics Show targets a range of devices including Web-connected digital photo frames.
Marvell is leveraging the XScale design and designers it acquired from Intel Corp. in June 2006 to deliver a 55nm consumer device with the muscle to run Linux or Windows CE, yet still hit a $100 price tag. The company will compete with a new 65nm ARM9 SoC from Samsung announced recently that also aims to steal sockets from Taiwan and China chip makers such as Amlogic, MagicPixel and SunPlus in digital photo frames.
"We are aiming to compete with Chinese and Taiwanese processors that have a few limited functions and require a real-time operating system," said Allen Leibovitch, a senior marketing manager in Marvell's consumer group. "This could be up to a billion unit opportunity for non-phone applications," he added.
The PXA168 will support sophisticated user interfaces and Web connections, something out of the reach of the existing chips, he added. Besides photo frames, the chip also aims at sockets in a wide range of new and existing XScale designs such as portable navigation devices, media players and home automation systems.
The chip includes a 5-in-1 memory card reader, a 10/100 Mbit Ethernet controller and interfaces for multi-level cell flash, CE-ATA, USB, PCI Express and DDR2 memory. The chip also sports a graphics accelerator and Marvell's proprietary Qdeo color enhancement hardware.
Leibovitch said with the PXA168 OEMs can shave $14 off the cost of the bill of materials of devices using non-integrated processors. An optional QFP package has a 1mm pitch and can support two-layer circuit boards.
The PXA168 has average power consumption of 200-300 milliwatts and close to a Watt when running at full tilt. It supports the MMX2 media instruction enhancements and has an XScale compatibility mode.
At the Consumer Electronics Show, Marvell will demo the device running a digital photo frame and using Chumby software. The chip is sampling and will hit production in time for holiday 2009 systems.
Marvell would not details plans for the PXA family except to say it will include higher and lower frequency parts, some optimized for specific systems. Existing versions of the chip are used in the Amazon Kindle eBook, a variety of GPS systems and smart phones from LG, Motorola, Palm, and Samsung.
"We are a member of Android consortium, and next month you'll see Android phones using XScale," said Kishore Manghnani, vice president for application processor products at Marvell.
Marvell has an architectural license to design its own ARM-compliant cores. To date most of its designs have been based on XScale and targeted at smart phones and networking gear. The company's existing parts are in a 90nm process running up to 800 MHz.