ARM Powered Google TV now confirmed officially by Google

Posted by – May 14, 2011

You got the tip from me from an anonymous source here since January (I have been speculating about it (2) (3) (4) for over a year), clues about it from ARM President Tudor Brown last year in November, and re-confirming rumors through Samsung in February, Google announced at Google I/O this week that Ice Cream Sandwich combines Android, Honeycomb and Google TV into one release (thus Google TV features on ARM), now it’s being reported by PC World that Google TV product manager Rishi Chandra is confirming the ARM Powered Google TV platform like this:

for the price issue, Chandra said that Google has now qualified ARM chips to be used to run the Google TV software, instead of just the Intel Atom chips that currently power the Revue. Moore’s Law–the inevitable increase in chip performance driven by increasing transistor density–will push the performance of the cost-optimized ARM chips up high enough to compete with Atom, while helping drive down the overall platform price, Chandra said.

I have thus far video-blogged over 60 ARM Powered Set-top-boxes from all the consumer electronics trade shows over the past 2 years, most are running Android, all of which could in theory run the Google TV software.

Of course, it is up to Google to decide what kind of hardware requirements they want to enfore for Google TV on ARM, if they want those to only feature the full suite of HDMI pass-through features, meaning HDMI input and output, Infrared blasters (to change the channel on your cable/satellite set-top-box), USB hosts, Bluetooth and more, then that would disqualify just about all of the ARM Powered set-top-boxes that I have filmed thus far. I wouldn’t know how much more those hardware features require, and perhaps that requires an ARM Cortex-A9 at the minimum to run all the overlay user interface features and preferably 1080p at 60fps support at the minimum.

I think it is more likely and more logical that Google will decide to be as open as possible about Google TV on ARM, and thus support all the SoC that are currently being used and that will most likely be used. I think that means Google TV on ARM could work in “AppleTV/Roku mode”, meaning no HDMI inputs, just the Google TV experience of bringing the Web and WebTV on the TV on this separate HDMI port to your HDTV. That is why I expect there to be two kinds of Google TV on ARM:

1. Basic Google TV on ARM, this is HDMI output only, Bluetooth or RF/USB keyboards with mouse pad accessory can be used. This solution could work on 100% of the ARM Powered Set-top-boxes that I have filmed. And I believe this will be included turning every Android Smartphone/Tablet with Ice Cream Sandwich and every Tablet with Honeycomb 3.1 into a Google TV “for free”. See the Google Android Team’s response to my question submitted on the possibility of turning all Android devices into free Google TV devices when HDMI is used:

2. The Full ARM Powered Google TV experience, including HDMI pass-through, IR blaster, USB hosts, Ethernet, etc.. Since Chris DiBona answers to my question above “There’s all this other stuff that goes into a Google TV that isn’t in a phone”, well then, the Full ARM Powered Google TV will be that type that does it all. But that should not prevent an Android device with a basic HDMI output and not much else to still display many if not most of the Google TV UI features right there on the HDTV.

3. There is also a third scenario that I am envisioning, Google might use their Android Hardware division to plan out a new type of Multimedia TV Docking system for Android, using nothing more than HDMI, USB slave/host and evt MHL (that combines both into one Micro-USB connector). Basically the idea here is a cheap TV Dock that should work with most if not all Android Smartphones that have HDMI, USB (or MHL) to turn those into full Google TV, thus using the USB slave/host to transmit the right infos back and forward and feature in that Dock the right HDMI input and output, IR blaster, USB host duplicators, Ethernet connector, charging and more. The idea is a new Google Open Accessory design that could sell for $49 to dock any Android Smartphone with HDMI/USB or MHL and thus turn those into full Google TV. A solution which could evt also turn any ARM Powered Set-top-box into a full Google TV box also with adding the HDMI in/out, IR and more to those. Maybe it could be called the Google TV adapter, converter or extender.

Here’s the 56 minute session on some of the Google TV Honeycomb 3.1 upgrades and development tools at Google I/O:

Worlds first Solar flight from Switzerland to Belgium underway

Posted by – May 13, 2011

Watch the live video now here: http://www.solarimpulse.com

The flight should be 12 hours, 438 kilometers from Payerne Switzerland to Brussels Belgium. This is the worlds first attempt to make an international flight using a 100% solar powered airplane.

You can follow the flight live with video and metrics with the Solar Impulse app on Android Google Marketplace and Apple Appstore.

I’d like to know this from an aeronautical expert:

Could we build an electric airplane, no solar, just big batteries, how many people can be transported, how far and how fast? What if the range of an electric jumbo jet with 100 passengers was only 2 hours, that’s enough for half of all the short range gasoline powered flights.

Android robot funky dancer at the Google I/O party

Posted by – May 13, 2011

Here’s some nice behind the scenes at the Google I/O party, you get to see the world famous funky Taiwanese Android robot dancer as he makes fun with some of the Google people:

Samsung has released a nice looking HD video of the Chromebook experience (to be ARM Powered soon):

Chris Pirillo says Chromebook just killed the PC industry

Posted by – May 13, 2011

My take on it is that the Chromebook is the first serious challenger to Windows/Mac in terms of being installed in a mass market retail product. It’s the first ever mass market Linux laptop (after the One Laptop Per Child non-profit reaching 2.5 million children with Linux Laptops in the developping world since 2007). It’s the first ever mass market ARM Powered laptop. It can be configured to be the cheapest laptop to make, the safest, the fastest, the thinnest, the lightest and the easiest to use. Chromebook may be the first successful carrier subscription based laptop.

For Chromebook to sell more than Windows, here’s what I think Chromebook needs to be:

– $199 or less in an ARM Powered configuration
– Use Pixel Qi with ARM and you’ve got 30 hours battery runtime in a sub-1kg 11.6″ or 12.1″ super slim form factor
– They should subsidize these in partnership with the carriers to do a subscription model for normal consumers like this:
1. Sell it for $99 or less on a 2-year contract with $10/month/100mb or $20/month/1GB 3G/LTE data plan
2. Bandwidth upgrades should be max $10/GB, $20/5GB, $30/10GB on-demand one-click
3. They can use carrier billing (thus carrier revenue share) for bandwidth upgrades, for cloud media subscriptions, on-demand, Chrome Web Store web apps and for all Google Checkout based online shopping
4. Provide an optional hardware upgrade once a year with contract extension. Used devices can be resold refurbished.
5. Provide 100GB or more cloud storage and full Google Apps for consumers with the subscription, offer guarantee of available of advanced web apps such as HD video editing (with many or most of the features of Avid/Finalcut), photo editor. And all these web apps must feel near instant to load and work offline, a web app should only need to get reloaded if it detects that there is a new version available. Gmail should load instantly for example.
6. Obviously, Google Voice and Google Music needs to be worldwide. They should also expand with a Google Video cloud storage. Basically they can allow people to upload 20’000 songs and 1’000 movies for free, the reason being, Google only needs to store one copy of each song or movie, and if the upload client (also on Chrome OS) detects that the file you want to upload already exists on Google’s servers in equal or better quality, it should instantly beam it to your account without actually requiring you to upload anything. Google should not care to try to filter out any “illegal” Mp3, Flac, DivX, MKV files. Eventually they can introduce unlimited music/movies subscription plans like Spotify/Netflix but they should aim at being able to include access to everything in those unlimited subscriptions, this might only be achievable through Government regulation of online content subscriptions.

If Google can deliver on those things and quickly, which is what I expect them to be able to do, then I think it’s obvious Chromebook could become the number 1 PC/Laptop OS as quickly as they became number 1 OS in smartphones since the Nexus One was released.

Can we expect to see some ARM Powered Chromebooks (or Chromiumbooks) at Computex in Taiwan at the end of May from all the Taiwanese notebook designers (Inventec, Pegatron, Wistron, Foxconn, Shuttle, Gigabyte etc..) who design upwards 90% of worldwide notebooks?

Android@Home enables 100 Billion new ARM Powered devices

Posted by – May 12, 2011

Android Open Accessory Development Kit

Android Open Accessory Development Kit

Android@Home enables the Internet of Things.

The biggest announcement at Google I/O was the launch of the Android@Home Open Accessory Development platform. This is the platform for a whole new world of accessories and connecting everything through Android to the Internet. Suddenly, we are smart about all things and all things become smart.

Now we are not only talking about about connecting 7 Billion people to the Internet with Android Smartphones, now it becomes about connecting 100 Billion things through Android to the Internet.

Why the Internet of things? Why using Android?

The cost to add an ARM processor such as one of the ARM Cortex-M series, with sensors, switches and wireless connectivity in every appliance in your home may cost as little as few cents or a few dollars per device. It’s so cheap that as soon as an open standard is established and as soon as applications are planned out, all devices will get connected with this technology. Watch my video with Nuvotron NuMicro at Embedded World 2011 about the cost ($0.50-$2) and use of ARM Cortex-M0 32bit microcontrollers in all types of devices.

Here are some of the infinite amounts of uses for putting ARM processors in everything:

– Put a smart control in every lamp and the lights follow you, if you move to another room the lights automatically turn off, you save power. They automatically dim if they detect you’re relaxing or watching TV.

– Put a smart control in all your doors, in all your windows, in all your power outlets, integrated with your heating systems, water systems.

– Add sensors, ARM Processors in your pillow, blanket and in your bed, to monitor your sleep and wake you up at the right time between the right sleeping cycles. You’ll feel better the whole day and you’ll optimize your sleeping times. It’s more healthy, makes you more productive and saves you time.

The trick is that even as the Internet of things has been possible for a while, and even as prices to add smart controllers and sensors in each thing costs $3, people haven’t been doing much of it yet just because the control, management, interactivity systems around this have not been standardized and open yet. If you want to build the Internet of things it has to be built around you and for you and not among each thing and only for each thing. That is why Android is your interface into that world of things, and Google supports the open Adruino platform to enable these developments in an open industry. Android is the UI for the Internet of Things. Android is how you guide it, how you see it, it’s how you control your things.

Expect the next consumer electronics trade shows to showcase more and more ARM Powered things to connect with the Android ecosystem, look forward to an industry about to get really creative in how to use and feature that Internet of Things most efficiently.

ARM President Tudor Brown talks about the Internet of Things at the ARM Technology Conference:

Andy Rubin’s former co-founders on Danger (Sidekick, see these videos from 2004) Matt Hershenson and Joe Britt demonstrate and launch the new Android Open Accessory API and Android@Home platform at the Google I/O 2011 Day 1 Keynote:

IBM’s video on the Internet of Things:

Solar Impulse to attempt worlds first international solar flight tomorrow

Posted by – May 12, 2011

Tomorrow May 13th 6AM Swiss Time, weather permits, Solar Impulse will attempt to fly a 100% Solar Powered airplane from Payerne Switzerland to Brussels Belgium. The prototype, piloted by André Borschberg, will take off from Payerne airfield and climb to an altitude of 3600 meters. The plane will head for France, pass over Luxembourg and land at Brussels Airport. Here’s my Interview with Solar Impulse co-founder Bertrand Piccard:

Schedule Friday May 13th 2011 (UTC +2) (liftoff is scheduled for 6AM Central European Time, this Midnight EST (New York), Thursday 9PM 12th May PST (San Francisco)):
06:00 approximately Take-off from Payerne aerodrome bound for Brussels Airport
20:30 Hangar doors open/ building 117 (logistical details below)
21:00 approximately Land at Brussels Airport
22:00 approximately Briefing in the hangar with Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg
23:00 End of the event

Although the flight has been confirmed, the Flight Director may still decide to postpone it or alter the route up until a short time before takeoff.

Tomorrow, you will thus be able to track the flight live on http://solarimpulse.com and via the Smartphone app “Solar Impulse Inventing the Future” available in Android Google Marketplace and Apple Appstore. The airplane’s position, altitude and speed will be shown live and cameras fitted inside the cockpit and at “Mission Control Center”, the mission’s nerve center, will allow you to experience the adventure live.

The purpose of Solar Impulse is to inspire all of us to think big, to become more ambitious, that we can as Humans pretty much do whatever we want. Solar Impulse is a philosophy. We can reach the moon, send Humans to Mars, fix global warming, make all new cars electric, feed the hungry and solve poverty.

ARM Powered Chromebooks to be released soon

Posted by – May 12, 2011

As a reply to my ARM Powered Chromebook Chrome OS notebook question posted online, the Google Chrome Team confirms that while they are focusing right now on getting the Intel Powered Samsung and Acer devices out the door on June 15th, the Chrome OS team is also working hard on ARM support and the ARM Powered Chromebooks should be released soon after. Their wording is the ARM Chromebooks are “hot on the trails” of the Intel Powered ones. This could be the first mass market ARM Powered laptop ever released.

The advantage of an ARM Powered Chrome OS device is that it is thinner, lighter, runs longer on a battery and especialy could be sold for a lot cheaper. I’m expecting the ARM Powered Chromebooks to sell below $199 for them to become the new best selling notebook platform.

Watch the Chrome Team live, as they may answer about Chrome OS on ARM

Posted by – May 11, 2011

Chrome OS is I think the first real challenger to Microsoft Windows and Mac OSX to actually be able to reach a mass market through retail stores and carrier subscription plans. Google has announced the global release of Chromebooks starting June 15th, but for now, those are only Intel Atom based. I asked them about the ARM Powered Chrome OS on their Google Moderator, let’s see if we get a good answer about the status of Chrome OS on ARM, the live Fireside Chat with the Chrome Team starts now at 3PM PDT (Midnight Central European Time):

Vote for my Chrome OS on ARM questions at Google I/O

Posted by – May 11, 2011

Please vote now for the following two questions for the Google I/O Fireside Chat with the Chrome team (to be live streamed on http://google.com/io at 3PM PST today, about 2 and a half hours from now), please use the following links to the Google Moderator to up-vote my questions so that we are more likely to get these answers:

When are you showing the ARM Powered Chromebooks? Are ARM Cortex-A9 processors with lots of RAM fast enough today? What is the status of Chrome OS on ARM?

Please vote here now: http://goo.gl/Nybov

Retweet this: RT: @charbax Let’s get the Chrome team to answer about the ARM Powered Chromebooks: http://goo.gl/Nybov

What hardware requirements do you enforce for manufacturers to get access to the Chrome OS source code? Can anyone use Chromium OS today with the full Chrome Web Store on any hardware without asking Google for permission?

Please vote here now: http://goo.gl/mod/XAsv

Also feel free to add your own good questions to the Chrome team in that Google Moderator and post your question links in the comments so we can also vote for your questions.

Honeycomb source code to remain closed until Q4? Who has access now?

Posted by – May 11, 2011

Who in the industry has access to Honeycomb 3.0 and 3.1 source code today? We were hoping for Google to announce 3.1 being open sourced around Google I/O but now it seems Google might not provide any Honeycomb open source code before Ice Cream Sandwich in Q4 this year?

Also watch the Android team’s response to Android being 100% open source (including all the drivers) (at 16m20s time code)

I understand the gigantic work involved for Google to write all the code, implement the programming APIs and everything else involved around Ice Cream Sandwich. Regardless of how quickly Google put together Honeycomb for tablets to have something ready at Mobile World Congress in February, I think it would just look wrong if for some reason we only have $500+ Android tablets based on Tegra2 made by a handful of priviledged companies somehow having any type of Honeycomb software on them for another 6 months. Given the amount of companies (nearly 375 of them filmed here), small to medium sized, who are investing their futures in making Android tablets, Tegra2-Honeycomb-exclusivity-until-Q4 would probably be quite scandalous. This is what I am expecting must be happening right now secretly with the Honeycomb 3.0 and 3.1 source code behind the scenes:

1. All “serious” tablet companies using all the major ARM Processors do have access to Honeycomb now, or will get access very soon. By “serious” company, I could mean the companies in which Google can trust not to leak the source code. That could mean that these “serious” Android tablet companies need some kind of a track record of being serious with this market.

2. Google should be transparent about which chip provider does have access to Honeycomb source code today, and which chip provider will get access soon. I believe all chip makers from at least ARM Cortex-A8 performance and upwards should be allowed to work on optimizing any current Honeycomb source code to work and timely be shipped with all the tablets that do get released with those specific chips in them. I do not believe that a Tegra2-only club for Honeycomb would be taken with a smile from the rest of the industry. All chip providers that have tablet makers showing products on the market and showcasing them at all the “serious” tradeshows today, including AmLogic, Freescale, Marvell, NEC/Renesas, Qualcomm, Rockchip, ST-Ericsson, Samsung, Telechips, Texas Instruments, VIA, all those should get that access and be able to ship Android tablets with Honeycomb in Q3 this year.

I’ve sent some of my Google contacts some questions regarding the actual status and plans for Honeycomb’s source code and support on the variety of ARM chip providers, while I am waiting for their reply, I wouldn’t know for sure what the actual happenings are behind closed doors before, during and after Google I/O in terms of officially supporting Honeycomb 3.1 on other platforms than just Tegra2.

Google needs to officially confirm that they are working with these ARM processors to support Honeycomb 3.1 in Q3 this year and I think that most Android tablet fans would be totally happy and satisfied:

Freescale i.MX53 Cortex-A8 1Ghz
Samsung Hummingbird ARM Cortex-A8 1Ghz
Samsung Exynos 4210 ARM Dual Cortex-A9 1.2Ghz
TI OMAP4440 ARM Dual Cortex-A9 1.6Ghz
Marvell Armada 600
Qualcomm MSM7227 ARM11 600Mhz 45nm with Adreno
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8255 1.5Ghz 45nm
Qualcomm Snapdragon Dual 8620 1.5Ghz
Rockchip RK2918 ARM Cortex-A8 1.2Ghz
Telechips 8803 ARM Cortex-A8 1.2Ghz
NEC/Renesas EV2 ARM Dual Cortex-A9 533Mhz
AmLogic ARM Single Cortex-A9 800Mhz

If Google has been and is cooperating with at least each of these SoC platforms, then I think we have no problem.

But if on the other hand, it somehow turns out that most of these alternative SoC vendors are somehow locked out of the Honeycomb party until finally getting source code access in Q4 and maybe not being able to release actual tablets with that code before Q1 2012, well then I think there will be some very angry people around the worldwide Android tablet industry.

Given the relatively big level of secrecy from all SoC vendors involved, I would like to interpret that as a clue that they must all be silently and cooperatively working closely with Google ever since before even the Motorola Xoom was released last February. And if they didn’t all have access already before last February, then hopefully they have all quietly gotten access or are getting access by now.

Google announced that over 100 Million Android Smartphones have been sold thus far. If 80% of those are sold on 2-year contracts generating revenues at an average of $1200 per phone over the 2-year contracts (in the US for example that number is most often higher than $2000), then that could mean Google’s Android has a huge influence on a global revenue of potentially more than $120 Billion, possibly over $80 Billion of which have been generated just in 2010 alone, with 2011 global Android industry revenues possibly clinching upwards twice as much as Smartphone growth is more than doubling every year. The Android Smartphone may be a $160 Billion industry in 2011 alone. Over $250 Billion in 2012 maybe. We are not talking peanuts. And with all analysts saying Tablets are the post-PC interface, Google may feel some type of pressure from the big guys of tech, not only the manufacturers but also the carriers (who are touching most of those huge Android related revenues), so it can be understandable that Google does things very carefully around Android, and to bring Android’s market share from 40% to over 80% in the next few months, Google may want to focus on top level secrecy in all of their cutting edge Android developments.

While I can understand that, and as a huge Google fanboy I want them to dominate over everything, but let’s see if we can get more informations on Honeycomb openness and the industry’s access to Honeycomb now under this Google I/O conference. I haven’t yet watched the Google Executives Q&A with Andy Rubin where some of the Android openness questions are answered, if anyone has the link to that video or any other related sources of informations please post those links in the comments.

If you are an industry insider and if you would like to tell me any secret information about the status of Honeycomb in the industry related to 3.1’s likelyhood to work on any or all of these SoCs during Q3 this year, you are welcome to contact me at charbax@gmail.com and if you want I can keep your name secret if you allow me to report here on your info.