The $199 tablet according to Freescale

Freescale Semiconductor will show off a tablet design that integrates its version of the power-efficient ARM processor at the Consumer Electronics Show.

Freescale Semiconductor has designs on new "smartbook" tablet computers and to prove it it's rolling out a second-generation reference design at the Consumer Electronics Show.

To say that tablet concepts are all the rage right now is, of course, an understatement. With a media frenzy over a reportedly imminent Apple tablet, companies like Freescale, which will supply the silicon guts of these newfangled computers, are eager to show concepts that they are peddling to device makers.

Freescale tablet reference design
Freescale tablet reference design Freescale Semiconductor

Freescale is pushing designs "with prices less than $200"--according to a statement--that integrate its version of the power-efficient ARM processor: the i.MX515 chip based on ARM Cortex-A8 technology.

Here's how Freescale describes the design: it will "provide instant-on functionality, persistent connectivity and all-day battery life." The tablet that the chipmaker will show at CES will run both the Android and Linux operating systems.

An overview of the Freescale reference design:

  • Display: 7-inch (1024 x 600) touch screen
  • Processor: Freescale i.MX515 processor based on ARM Cortex-A8 core
  • Connectivity: 3G modem (option) 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1, GPS
  • Memory: 512 MB DDR2
  • Storage: from 4GB to 64GB internal storage; removable micro SD
  • Camera: 3 Mpixel (video recording up to VGA 30fps)
  • Sensors: 3-axis accelerometer and an ambient light sensor
  • Adobe Flash Player support
  • Operating system: Android or Linux
  • Price: under $200

Freescale alternative design: tablet removable from keyboard dock.
Freescale alternative design: tablet removable from keyboard dock. Freescale Semiconductor

Partners include Inventec Appliance for design and manufacturing services and Thundersoft for software integration customization and optimization.

The erstwhile chip manufacturing arm of Motorola (spun off in 2004) calls its technology platform Smart Application Blueprint for Rapid Engineering or SABRE. "The SABRE tablet platform for smartbooks incorporates feedback from a recently completed end-user research study conducted in conjunction with Savannah College of Art and Design's prestigious Industrial Design program," the company said.

And availability? The smartbook reference design is expected to be available for evaluation beginning in February, according to the company.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.


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