Freescale Rolls out NetBook Reference Design at CES

DN Staff

January 6, 2009

2 Min Read
Freescale Rolls out NetBook Reference Design at CES

From CES: Freescale Semiconductorsaid yesterday it is rolling out a processor-based solution that could slash asmuch as $100 from the price of so-called "netbooks."

Based on the company's new i.MX515processor, the new solution includes three hardware blocks for video playbackand graphics, along with the CPU. Freescale engineers said they based the processoron ARM Cortex-A8core technology because it enabled them to minimize "netbook" costs and powerconsumption.

"We believe that the right pricepoint for a netbook is about $199, which is about $100 lower than where it'sbeen," said Glen Burchers, director of global marketing for the ConsumerSegment at Freescale Semiconductor. "The Cortex-A8 helps us get to that pricepoint."

Netbooks are handheld devices thatprovide Internet access, but are smaller than laptop computers. They are typicallytargeted at 10- to 25-year-old users who spend significant amounts of time online.Up until now, market prices for netbooks have hovered around the $300 to $350mark.

Freescale's new comprehensivereference design is an offshoot of its 2008 acquisition of SigmaTel, a company thatspecialized in audio signal processors and controller chips. Using SigmaTel'sexperience in consumer markets and building on the the ARM core, Freescale wasable to create the single-chip i.MX515 processor solution, while adding powermanagement and an operating system, and sell the whole package for less than$20. Freescale says its effort contrasts sharply with that of earlier netbookchipsets, which have typically incorporated three chips and have costs upwardsof $60.

"That $40-delta is enough to resultin a $100 bill-of-materials reduction, when you add the margins back in,"Burchers said.

Burchers said the use of thenew solution will also significantly cut power consumption. While playing back720p high-definition video, he said, the i.MX515 will consume just 0.25W.As a result of the power consumption improvements, the new solution willprovide "all-day" battery life. In contrast, previous chip sets have reportedlyallowed 2 - 2.5 hours of operation using four lithium-ion batteries.

At this week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Freescale willteam with Pegatron Corp. todemonstrate a netbook using the new technology. The two companies will alsoshow a netbook reference design that features the i.MX515 processor, Canonical's Ubuntu operating system, a newpower management IC from Freescale, an ultra-low audio codec and Adobe Flash Litesoftware. 

Freescale engineers said thesolution's Internet performance will not suffer as a result of its departurefrom Intel X86 architecture, which has long been the accepted architecture ofthe Internet.

"The Applie iPhone has done areally good job of showing people that they don't need X86 to run theInternet," Burchers said. "There is virtually no distinction between ourbrowsing performance and that of the Intel-based systems."     

Sign up for the Design News Daily newsletter.

You May Also Like