TI escalates ARM (chip) race

Texas Instruments chimed in at the Mobile World Congress with a bevy of ARM processors.

Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
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.
Brooke Crothers
2 min read

Texas Instruments sent out a little reminder on Monday that it won't be a cakewalk into the smartphone market for newcomers Intel and Nvidia.

While Intel announced LG Electronics as its first smartphone customer and Nvidia hawks its initial mobile phone technology platforms to prospective customers, TI continues to upgrade its arsenal of ARM-design-based processors, which have been shipping for years to cell phone customers. (Samsung and Palm--and the latter's newest Palm Pre--are among TI's customers.)

At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Monday, TI announced a new OMAP 4 mobile chip platform that will allow smartphones to do 1080p video record and playback and integrate 20-megapixel cameras. TI claims the OMAP 4 will deliver 10-times-faster Web page loading times, more than 7 times higher computing performance, and 10 times better graphics performance than its current OMAP processors.

The OMAP 4 processor is based on the dual-core ARM Cortex A9 MPCore supporting symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) and capable of speeds of more than 1GHz per core, according to TI. Basic ARM processor designs are licensed by U.K.-based ARM Holdings to companies like Texas Instruments and Qualcomm that tweak the design and then manufacture the chip.

OMAP 4 platform and development tools are expected to sample in the second half of 2009, with production expected by the second half of 2010.

TI also said Monday that it is adding to the OMAP 3 family with silicon based on 45-nanometer processor technology. (Intel is also using 45-nanometer manufacturing technology for its upcoming Moorestown smartphone chip.)

The OMAP36x series will run at speeds up to 1GHz, offer a dedicated graphics hardware accelerator for 3D gaming, and support 720p high-definition video recording and playback and 12-megapixel cameras.

The silicon is scheduled to sample in the third quarter.