marvell google tv Google drops Intel in favour of ARM for Google TV

In a surprise to no-one move, Google or rather Marvell has come clean on the fact that Google TV will be moving away from Intel and onto ARM. The first new Google TV boxes should be based on the Marvell Armada 1500 HD media SoC and should make a debut at CES next week.

In a surprise to no-one move, Google or rather Marvell has come clean on the fact that Google TV will be moving away from Intel and onto ARM. The first new Google TV boxes should be based on the Marvell Armada 1500 HD media SoC and should make a debut at CES next week.

The Armada 1500 (also known as the 88DE3100) is a brand new SoC from Marvell and an up to date version of the older Armada 1000, a chip that found its way into some Blu-ray players among other things. The Armada 1500 sports a custom PJ4B dual core ARM v6/7 processor designed by Marvell which is said to be Cortex-A9 compatible. Marvell claims 2.61 DMIPS per MHz per core, somewhat faster than the 2.5 DMIPS for a standard Cortex-A9 implementation. According to the spec sheet, each core is clocked at 1.2GHz which gives us a performance of just over 6200 DMIPS. Marvell has also included Neon support and support for Intel WMMX in the Armada 1500.

Marvell has also added a 3D graphics core to the Armada 1500, although this is not an in-house design, as Marvell has licensed the GC1000 from Vivante. According to Anandtech this is an OpenGL-ES 1.1/2.0 port with a core clock of 750MHz, but the details are fairly thin with regards to how this GPU core compares to that seen in other Cortex-A9 SoC's. Marvell has of course also included its own Qdeo post processing engine with supports per-pixel 3D noise reduction and de-interlacing, scaling and a wide range of other post processing features.

marvell google tv Google drops Intel in favour of ARM for Google TV

Other hardware features include support for 32-bit DDR3 800MHz memory, support for various types of Flash memory, HDMI 1.4 support, SATA 3.0 (we're not sure if Marvell refers to 3Gbps or 6Gbps here), 10/100Mbit Ethernet, SDIO, USB 2.0 connectivity and interestingly support for digital video input. In the latter case it seems like Marvell is hoping for its Armada 1500 to end up in some TVs and as such it would need to have HDMI inputs, although it will be interesting to see if anyone will create a device that will allow for recording from the digital input.

Marvell has also included support for a ton of codecs in its VMeta video engine and it can decode two streams at once. It handles just about every format out there including High Profile H.264, VC-1 Advanced profile, DivX-HD, VP6/8 in HD, Real Video 9/10 up to 1080p and a bunch of other formats. We should point out that there's support for Blu-ray 3D video, although we don't expect this to be a feature of any new Google TV products, but it should as such also handle 3D TV broadcasts. On the audio side of things the Armada 1500 will handle multi-channel Dolby and DTS up to 7.1-channels.

Beyond Google TV, Marvell is also claiming support for Android and various Linux operating systems. The planned implementations are as we've mentioned Google TV, smart TVs, set top boxes of various kinds, Blu-ray players and all kinds of media players. Marvell appears to have a well featured solution here, albeit maybe not quite as flexible as an x86 setup, but vastly cheaper. Marvell's own demo system that you can see pictured above might not look that impressive, but remember that this isn't what Google's partners' products will look like. Time will tell of Google TV 2.0 will be a success or not, but if the price can be brought down to something much more reasonable than the first generation hardware and if Google can put together slightly better software, then we see no reason bar that of Google being shut out by the content providers that the new Google TV boxes shouldn't be a success.

Source: Marvell