Analysis and comment on all matters pertaining to the supply chain and distribution of electronics components from Richard Wilson, editor of Electronics Weekly
Can ARM processors power the world’s tablets?
Will ARM Cortex become the processor of choice in the mobile tablet.
The imminent launch of Apple’s tablet, on January 26th, could make the mobile computing device which is not a netbook but nor is it a smartphone, the mobile product of choice in 2010.
And there is every possibility that ARM processors will have the right power/performance characteristics for most new designs.
First signs are that this is the case with Freescale basing its first tablet reference design on the Cortex-A8 based i.MX515 processor.
The concept of the tablet is a mobile device which sits between the netbook and smartphone.
It has a form factor that is approximately one-third the size and volume of today’s typical netbook.
While it seems likely that Apple has used an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, there will be a number of mobile computing companies looking to compete with Apple’s “iSlate” and for them Cortex looks liking being the processor with the power efficiency to do the job.
A big player is expected to be Qualcomm’s ARM-based Snapdragon chip.
Then there is Notion Ink, a US firm which is expected to be introducing its tablet at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this month.
Notion Ink’s Android running tablet design is based on the Nvidia Tegra chip which itself is based on an ARM11 MP Core running at 750NMHz.
As a result it has the performance to support full HD video, and it will come with built in WiFi, and UMTS/HSPA.
Freescale said the Cortex-A8 based reference design should support a type of smartbook with prices less than $200.