ARM processors are good only for small, low-power devices such as smartphones and tablets, right? Apparently not: Marvell’s recently announced tri-core ARMADA 628 processor has an onboard GPU which is reportedly capable of crunching graphics at 200 MT/s, extremely close to the PlayStation 3’s 250 MT/s. What does this mean for the future of embedded, low-power devices?
Read on to find out more.
The PlayStation 3 may be the king in raw processing power, but it may not be long before we see a humble tablet utilizing an ARM processor giving the console a run for its money, especially where graphics are concerned. And should that one day ever become reality, we will have Marvell’s recently announced ARMADA 628 processor to thank.
And why is that so? Simple: the ARMADA 628, which is a tri-core processor clocked at 1.5GHz, boasts an onboard GPU which is capable of crunching up to 200 million triangles per second (MT/s). In contrast, the PlayStation 3’s GPU is capable of doing 250 MT/s, while Nvidia’s Tegra 2 System-on-a-chip claims a respectable 90 MT/s.
According to a press release by Marvell, the company claims that the processor will be used for dual-streaming 1080p 3D content on both smartphones and tablets.
“Marvell has once again set the benchmark for the rest of the industry with the world’s first 1.5 GHz tri-core processor, delivering dual stream 1080p 3D video and 3D graphics performance with quad unified shaders for 200 million triangles per second delivered on ultra-low-power, long battery life smartphones and tablets,” said Weili Dai, Marvell Co-founder and Vice President and General Manager of Marvell Semiconductor’s Consumer and Computing Business Unit.
“This is important because today’s consumers expect robust enterprise and consumer applications delivered to the palm of their hands. Marvell is uniquely equipped to lead this mobile revolution as the semiconductor industry’s one-stop shop solution provider.”
The ARMADA 628 also scores in compatibility with most existing standards. Marvell has confirmed that the processor will support “DirectX, Open GL ES 2.0, and Open VG 1.1”, along with multiple OSes like RIM, Windows Mobile, Android and Linux.
Of course, such a processor will undoubtedly be overkill for most smartphones and tablets, but there is one potential market which may see huge interest in such a powerful chip: the handheld console market. While handheld consoles usually deliver acceptable graphics quality, gamers will often welcome graphical enhancements, and the notion of having near-PlayStation 3 graphics quality on a handheld console is bound to be of interest to both gamers and manufacturers.
And the fact that ARM processors are already being used in practically all of today’s handheld consoles only further fuels speculation that such a chip may soon find its way into Nintendo’s DS or Sony’s PSP. But we will have to wait and see.
More information about the ARMADA 628 is available in the official press release on the next page.