Category: Texas Instruments

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ARM Cortex-A15, the next Complete computing and content creation platform

Posted by Charbax – June 11, 2011

Last I heard, Texas Instruments said it might start sampling OMAP5 in October already, in testing and demo development boards before Mobile World Congress in February and target to be launched in consumer commercial products by Christmas 2012, within about a year and a half from now. In the following video, Nandan Nayampally, ARM's Director of CPU Product Marketing says:

With ARM's Cortex-A15, the smartphone or mobile device can take the next step of becoming a Complete computing and content creation platform.

I find it amazing that with such amazingly awesome ARM Cortex-A9 designs, clocked higher, added cores, just barely reaching the market, we can already also look forward to even greater performance and more features to come in devices just a year or so later.

My question is for the type of "Complete computing and content creation platform" that someone could define as for example a basic laptop, for example running Chrome OS, Ubuntu, Windows 8 or an ARM version of Mac OSX, can we expect those ARM Powered Laptops to have enough performance in ARM Cortex-A9 designs or do we still have to wait for ARM Cortex-A15 for ARM Laptops to replace Intel?

While the promise of Cortex-A8 Smartbooks shown at Computex 2009 just over 2 years ago didn't actually launch on the market, probably because of a lack in performance, I hope we will see optimal Cortex-A9 and other custom Dual-core, Tri-core and Quad-core designs released this year that will hopefully feel to have enough performance to feel just as fast at least as an Intel Atom Netbook.

Once ARM has that level of "Complete computing" performance covered and actual products such as just basic Laptops and Desktops on the mass market using that and that consumers don't see those as "slower", then ARM can also bring forward all it's other advantages in being lower power, cheaper, simpler, customizable, etc.

I feel that the immersive internet computing interfaces like Tablets and Smartphones of course are fantastic and awesome, and kudos for ARM for dominating in that, but it would be nice also to see ARM power just some basic Laptops and Desktops also and have those replace a big part of consumer electronics "Complete computing" devices previously only based on x86.

Innovative new touch screen interfaces, eventual Kinect style gesture controls, voice commands, all that are cool, but perhaps it won't actually be possible to do the next "Complete computing" devices using anything more than just a basic Laptop keyboard, mousepad and screen, at least when it comes to being a "content creation platform".

When do you think ARM is ready to power the Laptops? Are there Cortex-A9 designs with fast enough memory bandwidth, clock speeds, huge RAM, so they can power a full web browsing experience with all the multiple tabs, flash instances, javascripts and other useful web browser plugins or do we need to wait for Cortex-A15 yet for that performance level to be achieved?

My expectation is that the next devices based on ARM Cortex-A9 and other Dual-core designs such as OMAP4460/OMAP4470, i.MX6Duo/Quad, MSM8660/8960, Marvell 628, Ziilabs ZMS-20/40, Exynos 4210 (or a Laptop optimized higher clocked version of that), an Apple A5 optimized for Laptop use, of course the Nvidia Tegra3 Kal-El Quad-core, I expect all those to have fast enough memory bandwidth designs, fast RAM support, ample enough processing speed and other hardware acceleration required to run a full web browser centric OS like Chrome OS, Windows 8 and even ARM optimized versions of Ubuntu and OSX. I expect that the ARM Laptops can start to take 25% of Intel's x86 Laptop market this year with Cortex-A9 designs and that they can dominate with over 50% of the marketshare against Intel x86 sales with the Cortex-A15 designs performance reach next year!

Texas Instruments OMAP4470 1.8Ghz Dual-core, sampling in October

Posted by Charbax – June 10, 2011

Here's TI's next OMAP4 processor, to start sampling around October 2011, it'll be sampled at 45nm process size, it features the new SGX544 for graphics, it increases memory bandwidth even further to 7.5Gbit/s

supporting resolution up to QXGA (2048x1536). The new applications processor drives still more unparalleled HD UIs with simultaneous support for up to three HD screens and up to 2x more layered imaging and video composition than competitive solutions

Read more: newscenter.ti.com

Archos Gen8 Tablets can multi-boot Froyo, Debian, Angstrom, Gingerbread, Ubuntu, Chromium OS and more!

Posted by Charbax – June 10, 2011

Archos hacker Bubu just released the multi-boot menu support for the Archos Gen8 Tablets, it reportedly works great on Archos 70 Internet Tablet and Archos 101 Internet Tablet, find the release here: http://www.openaos.org/archives/739

This is how this is cool, you can install the official alternative OS firmware from Archos called the Special Developer Edition firmware here: http://www.archos.com/support/support_tech/_ppp.html?country=us&lang=en&p=gen8

Then you can install alternative firmwares and have them right there available in your multi-boot menu on your Archos, so you could for example today choose between Archos official Android firmware, Debian Linux and Angstrom Linux.

If more software hackers contribute, Archos tablets may also run Ubuntu 11.4, Chromium OS, Gingerbread and any other embedded Linux OS through this multi-boot system.

Bubu and the team at OpenAOS.org previously released this solution for the Archos Gen6 and Gen7 tablets as well.

Windows 8 on ARM shown at Computex, Microsoft becomes cool

Posted by Charbax – June 8, 2011

Short of calling it Azure OS (yet..), Microsoft is going all-in making HTML5 web-apps the core of the next generation Windows 8 apps ecosystem. It means Microsoft is betting their farm on the cloud. Microsoft is going all-in for "immersive internet computing" touch screen tablet UI support. Microsoft is making sure ARM Powered Windows 8 works exactly like on x86.

Watch this following awesome demonstration and talk of Windows 8 on ARM at Computex. I embed it starting at time-code 17m49s when Mike Anguilo starts talking about ARM Windows 8 status, but also do make sure to rewind to the start to watch the full Windows 8 UI demos. Mike Anguilo runs Windows planning and is also responsible for Microsoft's technical engagement with the Windows 8 ecosystem.

The Microsoft people like Mike Anguilo seem to have a serious plan, they probably still have some of the worlds best engineers on staff and they can afford to basically do whatever they want. It will be awesome to see how Microsoft will try to sustain a same or greater level of revenues and profits in such a rapidly auto-disrupting industry. While it can be argued Microsoft is late to the whole Smartphone and Tablet game, on the other hand the number of Smartphones sold in the last 5 years is probably 15x smaller compared to the number of Smartphones likely to be sold within the next 5 years. And the number of Tablets sold in the last 3 years likely is probably 150x smaller compared to the number of Tablets likely to be sold in the next 3 years. It sure looks to me like Windows 8 is going in the right direction for Microsoft. Since Windows 7, Microsoft has given up its always escalating hardware requirements Wintel strategy to instead focus on cutting off more and more of the bloatware. With Windows 8 they now even move over to an even more cloud centric Browser based HTML5 application ecosystem, sounds to me like an answer to Chrome OS in the form of an Azure OS with backwards ".exe compatibility". The question is, how can Microsoft differentiate its UI enough to justify the proprietary pricing differences? Or if they plan to be priced comparatively even with the cheapest Android and Chrome OS Open Source alternatives, how can they provide enough of a differentiating user experience to hold unto those billion Windows PC users that they got with the previous Wintel PC ecosystem?

While I don't know if it would make complete business sense and a corporations main focus legally has to be to take care of its shareholders, here are a few more directions I think Windows 8 might need to get into if they seriously want to be the dominant ARM Powered ecosystem:

- Windows 8 needs to be open source and free. They can do it like Google, and develop their next gens in secret hardware/chipset partnerships, but to get onto the next couple billion ARM Powered Smartphones, Tablets, Set-top-boxes, Laptops, they need it to be open and free. Nothing closed and pricey can ultimately win over open and free in the ARM world.

- Microsoft needs to focus on providing software as a service. The new Windows 8 App Store needs to have all the HTML5 apps, all the Android apps (yup.. why not?), and also, all the .exe apps (all Windows 98/XP/Vista/7 apps should just work), if not through native code execution then through cloud based software virtualization.

- Microsoft needs to focus on eliminating all the bloat, minimize the hardware requirements, make all ARM chipsets compatible and invite all manufacturers to use it for free. A $100 ARM Powered Laptop sold a year from now in every super market needs to be able to run a full Windows 8 OS, boot in 3 seconds, resume in 0.03 seconds and last 30 hours on a battery.

Do I think Microsoft can become so disruptive to its old business models so fast? I don't know how such a corporation may or may not quickly adjust or/and change its leadership. I don't know if Steve Ballmer needs to be replaced by a new CEO like Mike Anguilo or someone as cool as Google's Vic Gundotra (who previously worked at Microsoft) for these major business model shifts to actually occur as soon as with Windows 8/Azure OS. If done correctly, Microsoft could maybe even make more money per new Windows user than they did on selling basic proprietary software licences. How hard could it be for Microsoft to provide good enough cloud services and web app and web content integration over a potentialy popular Windows 8 devices for them to make up more than those $40-$80 or so per Windows user over 2-5 years of use in average pure profits per user? Or will Microsoft insist on staying proprietary, closed, try to enforce some kind of closed profit margin value chain where they'd try to reserve some kind of significant profit margins some what imitating Apple's large profit margins business model on selling ARM Powered devices? What do you think? Post your opinions on Windows 8 in the comments.

Here are a few awesome ARM Powered Windows 8 quotes that you can find in the 32-minute Microsoft Windows 8 Computex demo video:

The most important app of all on these systems is the browser. Over 60% of people's time on any of those systems is focused in the browser.

We've extended the trend that we started with Windows 7, on keeping our system requirements on either flat or reducing them over time.

The newest addition to the Windows ecosystem is of course ARM.

This has been made possible in part because of the innovation that has been going on in the ARM ecosystem today. ARM SoC's in general, virtually all of the new ones support Windows 8 system requirements. They all run over 1Ghz. They all have hardware accelerated graphics.

They are all getting more powerful. They are all getting more efficient. The cost is coming down and they are enabling thinner and lighter form factors than ever. In fact, all of these ARM Powered PCs that I am showing you here are not only able to experience to full Windows 8 experience you just saw, they are also able to support a new mode called Always On Always Connected. So the way you would it expect it from a Smartphone today, these systems will be able to instantly wake, they'll be able to go in standby for a really long time with low power drain, get great battery life but stil stay syncing and connected all at the same time.

UDM.tw Q101 compact TI DM3730 Cortex-A8 module PCB design

Posted by Charbax – June 3, 2011

UDM provides a full Texas Instruments ARM Cortex-A8 module to integrate in tablets or any other device.

Cupp Computing turns any Laptop into an ARM Laptop

Posted by Charbax – June 3, 2011

Cupp Computing is now launching as a product their module to replace the hard drive in any Laptop, add an SSD, up to 2 MicroSD cards (one for the ARM Powered OS of your choice), and with a keyboard shortcut you instantly go from the ARM Powered OS to the x86 OS, and back while the x86 goes to sleep. The ARM Powered Laptop runs up to 40 hours on a battery, if you have just 10 minutes left of battery, switch to ARM mode and you've still got 1 hour of use to finish your work. In ARM Mode it can run Android, Ubuntu, Chrome OS and other. They are currently using OMAP3, they can use OMAP4 also soon for more ARM Performance. They also plan to work with motherboard manufacturers to add the whole ARM Powered laptop module right onto all motherboards so ARM Powered laptop mode becomes a default option in all laptops.

ARM Powered Android used to lower the cost and power of Point-of-sale systems

Posted by Charbax – June 3, 2011

POSLab is showing their ARM Powered TI Cortex-A8 implementation of Android on a Point-of-sale (POS) system.

A further update on Linaro status at Computex 2011

Posted by Charbax – June 2, 2011

At Computex 2011, Linaro gave an update on their status, with some new technical demos showing graphics and other hardware acceleration that thy are working on.

Texas Instruments OMAP4430 Memory Bandwidth, Desktop Computing performance

Posted by Charbax – May 31, 2011

They can do Android on the phone and at the same time output Ubuntu on a HDTV or Computer monitor. In this video, TI answers some of the questions regarding the OMAP4430's memory bandwidth for desktop computing level of performance in web browsing and other apps as well as other details about the status of this platform for use to run a full desktop/laptop OS. TI also claims to have the best Flash support, doing up to 1080p Flash video in the Android browser just software based today on OMAP4430, and Flash 11 for Honeycomb coming out in August or September should be taking full use of GPU hardware acceleration providing even smoother Flash support. OMAP4460 is the platform that TI currently is using with Google for TI's full Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich support working on fully optimizing hardware and software.

HD Video Conferencing on Texas Instruments OMAP4430

Posted by Charbax – May 31, 2011

Wow awesome. A few years ago I would film the HD video conferencing solutions that required $15 thousand setups (Lifesize, Sony Ipela, Cisco Telepresence..), now TI is showing HD video-conferencing that works on your next ARM Powered smartphone or tablet. Just connect your smartphone to your HDTV, use WiFi is available, but even over 3G and LTE, with just 512kbit/s you can do 720p video-conferencing on SIP or Skype, and with 1mbit/s upload or more you can even do 1080p video-conferencing using the latest OMAP4460 platform. This also can support up to 8 simultaneous videos. Sorry, but I am pretty much amazed. Soon enough, HD video-conferencing using just cheap ARM Powered devices will be a piece of cake.