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Integrated app platforms target smartphones, tablets

Posted: 22 Feb 2011     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:NovaThor multi-chip platforms  LTE modems  application processors 

ST-Ericsson unveils its Nova line of application processors, as well as Thor-brand modems and NovaThor multi-chip platforms that combine application engines, modems and connectivity chips into integrated and tested chipsets, which device manufacturers can use in smartphones and tablets.

Although its new offerings include LTE modems, the wireless chip vendor did not release a quad-core processor. On the other hand, both Nvidia and Qualcomm have demonstrated and are scheduled to release quad-core application processors.

In laying out its roadmap ST-Ericsson has continued to use ARM for its main application processor but is using both Imagination PowerVR and ARM Mali graphics cores in different chips.

Currently sampling, the NovaThor U9500 combines the Thor M5730 with the Nova A9500 in a single die. The NovaThor T5008 platform combines a TD-HSPA+ modem with dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 and Mali 400 graphics. It is due to sample in Q2 2011. The NovaThor U4500 platform combines a Cortex-A9 based application processor with a HSPA+ modem. It will sample in the first half of this year.

The three application processors announced recently are the Nova A9600, A9540 and A9500 together with two modems, Thor M7400 and M7300.

Manufactured in 28nm CMOS technology, the A9600 is an implementation of a dual-core Cortex-A15 with each core running up to 2.5GHz clock frequency. The chip also includes a PowerVR Series 6 GPU codenamed Rogue, which delivers in excess of 210GFLOPS of graphics performance. The Nova A9600 is expected to bring more than a 20-fold improvement in graphics performance compared with the U8500 platform.

ST-Ericsson has also unveiled the Nova A9540, a dual-core ARM Cortex A9-based processor, implemented in 32nm CMOS technology, running at up to 1.8GHz. The Nova A9500, built in 45nm CMOS, has the same processing engine but runs at up to 1.2GHz, with Mali 400 graphics. It is sampling and in design with ST-Ericsson customers today.

ST-Ericsson's Thor modems, the Thor M7400 and the Thor M7300, support the latest LTE and HSPA+ dual carrier technologies, while preserving backward compatibility with existing 3G/2G networks, in a radio that supports up to eight LTE/WCDMA/GSM frequency bands.

- Peter Clarke
  EE Times

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