You might not get all that excited about ebook reader CPUs (or maybe you do), but Freescale powers most of them. The Kindle, Sony Readers and more run on Freescale CPUs. Today they're announcing their next generation CPU which isn't just wicked fast, it's wicked inexpensive and easy on power too. What does that mean? Depending on the display and display controller, it could mean faster page turns, faster dictionary lookups and zippier applications on digital book readers. 800MHz is nothing to sneeze at and it also handles audio, video and accelerometer functions.
The digital reader is still young, and it's exiciting to see things moving forward so nicely. Who knows, we might even see products using this new CPU by the end of the year. Expect it to be in high end readers that offer an array of demanding features, not the budget variety.
Here's the full press release:
Newest eReader processor from Freescale lowers costs and fosters innovation for next generation consumer products ? Top provider of eReader silicon looks to expand leadership with i.MX508 processor integrating advanced ARM Cortex-A8 technology and newest E Ink controller ? AUSTIN, Texas ? March 1, 2010 ? Freescale Semiconductor is helping drive down the cost of next-generation eReaders with the i.MX508 applications processor ? the first system-on-chip (SoC) to integrate advanced ARM Cortex-A8 technology and the newest hardware-based Vizplex? display controller from E Ink. Freescale?s ultra integrated i.MX508 processor is engineered to deliver the performance, energy efficiency and system cost savings necessary to help OEMs evolve and grow the dynamic eReader product category. ? With the ARM core running at 800 MHz, the i.MX508 provides twice the rendering performance of Freescale?s previous eReader processors, resulting in faster page turns and snappy responsiveness for consumers. The increased processing capability also gives manufacturers the additional performance to add features like advanced touch solutions and the ability to run other value added applications. ? By integrating the E Ink display controller into the SoC, Freescale?s i.MX508 reduces part counts and lowers costs associated with electronic paper display control functionality by as much as 50 percent compared to systems without an integrated controller. Freescale?s i.MX508 SoC also helps OEMs lower cost by integrating dual USB/PHY and cost effective raw NAND memory. ? The i.MX508 is the latest addition to Freescale?s product roadmap for the Smart Mobile Devices category which is a fast growing market segment that feeds consumer demand for low-cost, small form factor, long battery life products. The category includes smartbooks, eReaders, smartphones and other mobile consumer products. Longer battery life The i.MX508 processor includes special power modes created for eReaders that allow the CPU and certain peripherals to operate at full speed while rendering a page, and then turn off when they are not needed in order to save power. As eReader panel resolution increases, the i.MX508 SOC offers lower power than software-based display controller solutions. A complete solution The i.MX508 processor is designed to work with Freescale?s flagship MC13982 power management/user interface integrated circuit to perform power and battery functions as well as user interface and control.? Freescale also offers eReader OEMs the SGTL5000 stereo codec with headphone amp for audio coder/decoder functions, as well as Freescale?s MMA8450Q, a new low-power, 12-bit, 3-axis accelerometer for determining portrait and landscape orientations. ? Reference design for streamlined development Freescale and E Ink have additionally collaborated to create a reference design that allows customers to begin developing eReader products based on the i.MX508 processor ahead of silicon availability. The design is the latest in Freescale?s Smart Application Blueprint for Rapid Engineering (SABRE) series. The SABRE platform for eReaders based on the i.MX512 includes Freescale?s i.MX512 processor, a 6-inch Vizplex panel and a software version of the E Ink electronic paper display controller. Software developed by customers on the reference design can be easily ported onto the i.MX508, thus allowing faster time to market and re-use of existing software. ? Availability and pricing The i.MX508 applications processor is expected to cost less than $10 (USD) in quantities greater than 250K units. Freescale plans to begin sampling to select customers in early third quarter 2010. The SABRE platform for eReaders based on the i.MX512 processor is available for purchase now from Freescale. The suggested resale price is $1,995 (USD). For more information, visit www.freescale.com/eReader. ? About Freescale Semiconductor Freescale Semiconductor is a global leader in the design and manufacture of embedded semiconductors for the automotive, consumer, industrial and networking markets. The privately held company is based in Austin, Texas, and has design, research and development, manufacturing or sales operations around the world. www.freescale.com.??????
-------------------- Lisa Gade Editor in Chief, MobileTechReview