Handicapping the technology race
Which next-generation mobile DRAM technology will ultimately prevail in the market? Though it’s far too soon to call a winner, wide I/O DRAM technology was fast out of the gate and has a slight lead. Nokia reportedly has endorsed the spec, and Hynix and Samsung have jumped on the bandwagon.
But other cell phone companies aren’t talking. Motorola and Research in Motion did not respond for interview requests. And Apple is perhaps the world’s most secretive OEM.
One possible clue is to watch the applications processor vendors. Apps processors support functions such as wireless connectivity, power management, audio and video in smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices. Each apps processor also supports a given OEM-endorsed mobile DRAM standard.
One applications processor vendor, Texas Instruments Inc., is watching all standards but says one technology appears to be leading by a nose. “Wide I/O has a lot of advantages,” said Brian Carlson, OMAP 5 product line manager for TI. “Ultimately, that’s where the industry will move.”
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Raj Talluri, vice president of product management for applications processors at Qualcomm Inc., said it’s still too early to predict a winner, but he noted the industry is begging for “more CPU power” for new and data-intensive applications.
Indeed, the exploding demand for more bandwidth in mobile devices has given rise to more-powerful apps processors. That leg of the race is being run by companies such as Nvidia, Qualcomm and TI.
Earlier this year, Qualcomm rolled out its next architecture for its Snapdragon family of applications processors. The processor microarchitecture, code-named Krait, is said to provide speeds of up to 2.5 GHz per core. Built around an ARM-based architecture and a 28-nanometer process, the devices will be available in single-, dual- and quad-core versions.
TI recently rolled out the multicore OMAP 5, based on a28-nm process. The processor will come in two versions: the OMAP5430, targeting smartphones, and the OMAP5432, for mobile computing and consumer products.