Texas Instruments, Inc. (TI) said this week it will bring laptop-type performance to the handheld level as it rolls out a new series of OMAP processors based on the ARM Cortex-A8 core.
Known as the OMAP35x, the new processor family was announced at the TI Developers Conference in Dallas this week. It includes four devices and is said to be a big step forward for the giant semiconductor maker because it quadruples the performance of earlier devices. TI engineers said they expect the OMAP35x to appeal to makers of portable media players, in-car navigation systems, medical instruments and security systems as well as wireless handsets, which had been a prime application for earlier generations of the technology.
“We’re making this technology available to manufacturers in all sorts of industries, as opposed to just the wireless handset market,” said Gerard Andrews, OMAP marketing manager for TI.
Andrews said he expects the new devices to make their mark in applications transitioning from standard-definition video to HD and in displays making the switch from 2D to 3D graphics. He said it could also enable some products to upgrade from mobile-Internet browsing capability to full-Internet browsing.
Performance boosts are said to be key to OMAP35x’s new application set. The ARM Cortex-8A core developed by ARM Ltd. offers greater bandwidth and markedly improved instruction set processing over the old ARM9 cores. It accomplishes that through the use of a so-called “superscalar” core, which processes two instructions per clock cycle and with a larger data pipeline, which enables higher clock rates.
As a result, the OMAP35x devices offer a 600-MHz core, twice as fast as ARM9. They also achieve 1200 Dhrystone MIPS (millions of instructions per sec), which is four times the capability of earlier devices with ARM9 cores.
“With a faster clock and more functionality per clock cycle, you get a big boost in performance,” Andrews said. “That’s what gives you the fast, full Web-browsing experience and the ability to run laptop-type applications.”