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Intel gears 45nm SoC for digital living room

Posted: 30 Sep 2009     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Intel Sodaville  45nm SoC  digital TV  consumer electronics 

Intel's Sodaville

Intel Corp. has unveiled its first 45nm SoC at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF), its second swing at a device aimed for TVs and other digital living room systems. The CE 4100 aka Sodaville marks a significant stepwise upgrade in Intel's efforts to be part of the rapid evolution of digital TV.

"User experiences on the TV have been frozen for the last 10-15 years," said Erik Huggers, a BBC developer who created a novel Web player for the broadcaster's content, speaking in a video clip at an IDF keynote. "The TV can be a gateway to infinite choice" with the right Web links, he said.

"We need innovations in technology, user experience and business models to deliver an Internet-enabled digital TV experience," said Eric Kim, general manager of Intel's digital home group, introducing the new chip.

The CE 4100 is a follow on to Intel's first SoC for TVs, the Canmore chip announced last year at IDF. The new chip replaces an 800MHz Pentium M core with a 1.2GHz Atom, increasing L2 cache from 256- to 512MB.

Sodaville will dissipate between 7W and 9W, down from 9.8W for Canmore. But it will have about the same performance at an estimated 3600 Dhrystone Mips.

In terms of media, Sodaville adds a hardware accelerator block. It is capable of decoding two simultaneous MPEG2, H.264 or VC1 streams at 1920x1080-progessive pixel resolutions at 60fps. It also has two 533MHz audio DSPs.

High-end versions of Sodaville bump graphics data rates to 400MHz. They also have a 36bit A/V in capability for passing through HDMI signals.

The chips boost serial ATA support from the 1.5- to 3Gbps version. It also supports both supports DDR-2 and -3 memory and includes NOR and NAND flash controllers. It does not support PCI or Express, but uses two USB 2.0 connections as an expansion bus.

The chip fits in a 27mm x 27mm package and runs a variant of Linux that will migrate over time to Intel's Moblin. Three ODMs will have reference four- and six-layer board designs available by the end of the year.

In one presentation, an Intel marketing engineer suggested the company will roll versions optimised for IPTVs, cable STBs and other consumer electronics devices when it delivers 32nm versions sometime next year or later.

The Intel CE 4100 includes a 1.2 GHz Atom core and an optional 400 MHz graphics accelerator. (Click on image to enlarge.)

Kim said he has design wins both for Sodaville and last year's Canmore but can't name names because consumer OEMs don't like to pre-announce systems.

Malachy Moynihan, a video strategist from Cisco Systems, said the former Scientific Atlanta group is testing Sodaville chips but "we aren't ready to make any announcement yet." The Cisco set-top group develops its own Sparc-based SoCs and uses merchant processors from Broadcom and others.

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