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Quad Cortex-A53 SoC Allows Low-Power 4K Set-Top Box

May 26, 2015
Marvell Technology Group’s ARMADA 1500 Ultra is designed to deliver 4K video in a compact set-top box system.
1. The ARMADA 1500 Ultra has four Cortex-A53 cores and eight Vivante GC7000XS GPU cores. (Click for larger image.)

Marvell Technology Group’s ARMADA 1500 Ultra (Fig. 1) is designed to deliver 4K video in a compact set-top box system. The quad-core, 64-bit Cortex-A53 compute engine delivers 15K DMIPS. It has a 1 Mbyte L2 cache. The system-on-chip (SoC) is designed to be power-efficient, using 0.05 mw/DMIPs. It only uses 1 W in standby mode. This can help eliminate the need for active cooling.

The SoC can handle 4K video at rates up to 102 frames/s. This allows support for Ultra HD – 3840 x 2160 p60. The Qdeo video post-processing system can handle multiscreen, 10-bit HEVC and 8-bti VP9 decode and 1080p legacy transcode support. The Qdeo support is optimized for low-latency, cloud-based gaming.

There is also an 8-core, Vivante GC7000XS GPU that delivers 51 GFLOPs of performance. This includes hardware tessellation and geometry shader support. The GC520L 2D support handles 8-source composting in a single pass, which is optimized for Android SurfaceFlinger.

The full ARMADA 1500 includes ARM TrustZone support. The chip can also handle video watermarking and Verimatrix Ultra for digital rights management (DRM).

The memory interface is optimized with a 64-bit channel that operates with dual 32-bit DRAM. It can handle up to 4 Gbytes of memory with 100 Gbit/s of bandwidth.

Marvell is providing a number of reference designs based on the ARMADA 1500 Ultra. The full feature version fits on an 8-layer, 90-mm by 97-mm PCB (Fig. 2). A more compact, 4-layer, 75-mm by 75-mm PCB reference design reduces memory capacity and eliminates interfaces like Mini-PCIe and custom tuner support.

2. The full ARMADA 1500 Ultra reference design fits on an 8-layer, 90-mm by 97-mm PCB.

The system will support USB 3.0, PCI Express, SATA, and gigabit Ethernet. The system can handle a range of wireless interfaces including Wifi, LTE, G.hn, PLC, Zigbee, and Bluetooth.

Software development kits for the reference designs are provided as well as Android TV support. There is also support for Kimono SDK Javascript construction kit. 

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