Marvell shows the Armada 100 and Armada 600, explains the differences in price, performance, target markets. Also shows off the Marvell 168 powered Gplug D, the first Guruplug with a HDMI output. The big question I have is which platform will OLPC choose to use for the OLPC XO-3 tablet platform, if it will be one of these or if the timing allows for the even newer and more powerful Marvell Armada 628 Tri-Core processor to be used.
OLPC is working to design an unbreakable screen and thus may not have the XO-3 prototypes ready to show at CES in January. Marvell and its partners will likely have lots of tablets to show by then though. An unbreakable and sunlight readable Pixel Qi screen is an important feature of the XO-3 to make it a viable option for developing countries, as well as its abilities to be used for full productivity and for fast text input.
Here's a new Marvell powered Android 1.6 tablet design presented by Hanvon at the Frankfurt Book Fair:
This video was released at: newgadgets.de
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Marvell has supported OLPC since the beginning, they have thus far provided the WiFi Meshing modules on XO-1 and XO-1.5. Marvell co-invested with Google, News Corp, Novell and the others into the founding of OLPC to bring about the XO-1 which forced Intel and the whole laptop industry to respond with the 100 Million netbooks that have been sold in the last 3 years to limit the effects of OLPC's potential disruption of the laptop market. Marvell and OLPC have now signed an agreement in which OLPC is to develop XO-3 Tablet(s) based on one of Marvell's ARM System On Chip processor solutions.
Marvell can justify the investment as an R&D investment in which everything OLPC develops, as all OLPC hardware designs are open source, can freely be used by Marvell's manufacturing OEM partners to also release commercial tablet products based on these technologies.
OLPC will use these funds to develop the Tablet that can be used for productivity, for constructionist learning as Nicholas Negroponte said at the Mobilize 2010 conference last week:
How do you make tablets a constructionist medium? A medium where you make things, you don't just consume them. Cause if it's about kids and learning, it's not like you feed a goose grain to make the foie gras. You have to make it for kids to use it, to make, to communicate. Whether it's music, whether it's text or whether it's to write computer programs. And it has to be so low power, when it runs out of power you just shake it a little bit and it continues.
These are the challenges that OLPC will work on to implement in XO-3 before the target 2012 $75 release:
Why should children use tablets instead of laptops?
The future of OLPC: it's a notepad.
The notepad is the oldest tool used by children in the class room. Imagine adding full online and offline interactivity to the notepad. Imagine a magic notepad that can display every page from every book, every image and every video ever filmed. To display low bitrate tutorial videos that work even in black and white mode like the ones of the Khan Academy, even have them be interactive and provided as learning games. The student can annotate all books, take notes and share them. The tablet is not only lighter and could be designed for cheaper, it also is the more usable form factor as an e-reader for reading all books ever written in the world. As Nicholas Negroponte says:
There is no way to justify a paper book. If you'd want to send 10 thousand physical books, you'd have to take every 747 out of service around the planet just to move them from wherever they are being manufactured. Physical books are a luxury.
I wonder if 7″ or 10.1″ Pixel Qi will be used, or both. The 7" size may be optimal for it to be as light, cheap and durable as possible, it might be better for children to read books on a 7" form factor than a 10.1" one. For productivity, I think it should support both touch screen and some cheap $2 USB keyboards/mouse and use its built-in kick-stand. Children can easily carry a $2 keyboard/mouse when they need to be most productive. Maybe a thin keyboard to double as screen protector and which can be clipped onto the back of the device when in tablet/e-reader mode could be a nice design feature, although the screen needs to be unbreakable enough for children not to need worry about carrying the tablet without a screen protector.
For software, I think that OLPC should work with Google and the emerging tablet industry to customize Android for education. Maybe add Sugar apps support on top of Android OS as a secondary app platform "module layer" on top of Android. Basically, Sugar could be a custom UI layer on top of Android for the XO-3 tablet.
Marvell is giving $5.6 Million to OLPC to fund the development of the XO-3 Tablet, with bendable plastic Pixel Qi screen and education-centric customized software, that finalized XO-3 will be ready by 2012 for distribution to schools at a target $75 bill of materials and manufacturing each. OLPC and Marvell will have an early demonstration tablet prototype running Android to show in January at the next CES.
I think that they should definitely go for customizing Android for education. Maybe add Sugar apps support on top of Android OS as a second app platform. I wonder if 7" or 10.1" Pixel Qi will be used, or both. For productivity, I think it should support both touch screen and some cheap $2 USB keyboards/mouse and a kick-stand.
It is being said in this video that this ARM Powered laptop is customized with Linux software for education in China and comes with built-in SIM card reader for wireless Internet access.
|Core||Sheeva PJ1 w/WMMX2|
|Memory||LP-DDR 200 MHz DDR2 400 MHz (DDR2-800) x16|
|LCD Controller||Up to WUXGA|
|Video||Up to D1 using WMMX2|
|Additional Blocks||QdeoTM ICR|
|Key Peripherals||FE, 5:1 Card Reader, USB, EPD Ctrl (166E)|
|Process, Package||55nm, BGA|
Marvell is unveiling this amazing new processor for smart phones and tablets, the Marvell Armada 628 has:
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
1080p dual stream 3D video applications (30 FPS, multi-format)
By supporting 1080p 3D at 30 FPS, does that mean normal non-3D 1080p at 60fps High Profile H264 also can be played back flawlessly?
The new ARMADA 628 tri-core processor incorporates a number of advanced processing and power management features. The tri-core design integrates two high performance symmetric multiprocessing cores and a third core optimized for ultra low-power. The third core is designed to support routine user tasks and acts as a system management processor to monitor and dynamically scale power and performance. The tri-core architecture provides superior performance and lower power over dual-core designs while maintaining industry compatibility and leadership — ensuring a richer, faster and smoother experience than any other ARM-based processor available today.
That sounds like Marvell is awesomely at work using its ARM Architecture licence, customizing their processors as much as they can to design those processors how they think is best with their expertise and 5000 employees.
The ARMADA 628 is also designed to be the first mobile CPU to provide high-speed USB 3.0 connectivity, which offers 10x faster performance than USB 2.0.
Hmm nice, I can't wait to be able to transfer those terrabytes of data from one hard drive to the other faster that tens of hours.
The ARMADA 628 is based on a Marvell-designed ARM v7 MP compatible CPU offering 1.5 GHz performance. It offers support to use LP-DDR2 or DDR3 memory up to 533 MHz, a highly flexible display controller capable of driving four simultaneous displays at up t o 2K x 2K resolution, and a highly robust security subsystem that includes a secure execution processor. An integrated 3D engine renders 200 million triangles per second for an immersive game play experience and a multi-format video engine supports dual stream 1080p video for a true 3D visual experience. In addition, the ARMADA 628 supports DirectX, Open GL ES 2.0, and Open VG 1.1 – ensuring complete compatibility with the most hotly anticipated mobile game titles. ARMADA 628 supports RIM OS, Android™, Linux, Windows Mobile, and full Adobe Flash.
World's first "tri-core" application processor
Up to 1.5 GHz for the two main cores and 624 MHz for the third low power core
"Heterogeneous multiprocessing" with "hardware-based Cache Coherence"
1 MB System Level 2 Cache
I am really looking forward to see some devices using this new processor.
Perhaps now this new Marvell 528 processor generation (as I expect could be the numbering of the Desktop/Laptop derivative of the 628) will be fast enough as well to power Desktop and Notebook class devices like these ones I filmed:
Will Marvell use 628 in the upcoming OLPC XO-3 low cost low power tablet for education project?
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A new design for a 4" 800x480, Marvell PXA310 based Maemo Linux device, with the integrated thumb keyboard below the screen. Built-in camera for video-conferencing and GPS.
This 6" e-reader by the Taiwanese company ViewSonic is called Jin Yong after a famous author and will be released in Taiwan in july 2010 for about 150 US$. It uses a new touchscreen technology called RFID touch, made by a swedish company, that uses a light detector makes it feel like a capacitive touchscreen. It has Wifi, 2GB internal memory (expandable) and supports common formats. It is powered by the Marvell Armada 166E processor.