Electronic Design

Next-Generation Processor Delivers More On A Tight Power Budget

Users want more multimedia on their cell phones. That means more processing without increasing the power requirements. While that sounds like a tough task, Texas Instruments' next-generation OMAP3 processor fits the bill.

This chip uses the ARM Cortex-A8 superscalar processor core along with an enhanced imaging video/audio accelerator (IVA 2+) subsystem. This subsystem handles streaming audio, video, video conferencing, and still-image capture and display. It also can record and play back video with DVD quality (see the figure).

The IVA 2+ core is the same core TI developed for its DaVinci media processor. Designers transferred it from the 90-nm technology DaVinci uses to the 65-nm technology used to produce the OMAP3. Various software codecs allow the IVA 2+ block to record and play movies in all popular standards—MPEG 4, Windows Media Video 9 (VC-1), and Real Video 10. Codecs also support videoconferencing.

Running at 550 MHz, the Cortex-A8 delivers double to triple the throughput of the ARM 11 core used in TI's OMAP2. With the higher throughput, the OMAP3 can handle more complex software tasks as well as deliver click-and flicker-free audio and video during multitasking. 2D and 3D graphics also get a performance boost due to the Cortex-A8's higher throughput, even though the main 2D/3D graphics processor core on the chip is the same as the OMAP2's. The graphics engine can deliver over 2 Mpolygons/s.

The higher integration level won't significantly increase power consumption. First, a low-leakage 65-nm technology reduces chip size and overall power consumption. Second, TI's Smart Reflex power-management design approach lets users dynamically control voltage, frequency, and power based on device activity, mode of operation, temperature variations, and more to better optimize power efficiency.

The OMAP3 will retain all software compatibility with the OMAP2 processors. It will include high-level support for Linux, Symbian, and Windows Mobile operating systems. The chip also includes TI's MShield security technology for e-commerce and replay of copyright-protected digital content.

The OMAP3430's camera interface supports up to 12-Mpixel sensors. Other on-chip resources include an LCD interface and a USB 2.0 high-speed serial port with on-the-go capability. Rounding out the resources are an S-video TV output, 64 kbytes of SRAM, a memory controller for external memory support, and additional peripheral support for hard drives and other devices.

The OMAP3430 will be supported by a full ecosystem—the OMAP Developer Network and OMAP Technology Centers, as well as tools and software libraries. The chip is expected to sample in the second half of 2006, with volume production scheduled for 2007. Contact the company for volume pricing.

Texas Instruments Inc.

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