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Nvidia's cellular CPU handles 720p video

Posted: 13 Feb 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:cellular CPU? 720p video? applications processor?

Graphics company NVidia Corp. has rolled out its first cellphone applications processor Feb. 11, taking a fresh run at the mobile business with a chip that can handle video resolutions up to 720-progressive.

The 65nm APX 2500 incorporates a 750MHz ARM 11 with 256Kbytes L2 cache, low-power graphics and video cores and an image processor supporting up to 12Mpixel imaging. It dissipates about 200mW decoding a 720p video stream, the company claims.

By comparison, Toshiba described at the recent International Solid State Circuits Conference a 65nm chip that decodes 720p video at 209mW at 30fps and 620mW at 60fps. The eight-core device has a 512Kbyte L2 cache and runs at up to 333MHz.

For its part, Texas Instruments detailed its first 45nm chip, an integrated baseband and applications processor with an 840MHz ARM 11 core. The chip, which handles H.264 video streaming, has a maximum power consumption of 500mW.

NVidia is demonstrating the APX 2500 publically for the first time at the World Congress this week in Barcelona. The chip is expected to be in production in June.

The new device has a graphics core that delivers performance similar to NVidia's GeForce 6 desktop part. The company is supplying with the chip a basic framework for user interface software with desktop-like features such as anti-aliasing, overlays and transparency.

Until recently the cellphone architecture was all about the phone, but now the cellphone is turning into a computer with designs like the Apple iPhone," said Mike Rayfield, general manager of NVidia's mobile group.

The chipmaker hopes to ride Microsoft's coattails into the mobile business, tying its part closely to support for the Windows Mobile OS.

PortalPlayer edge
NVidia initially jumped into the mobile business with a set of mobile graphics cores. It reorganized its effort after it acquired PortalPlayer, a mobile applications processor designer, in late 2006, folding the efforts of both companies into a fresh design.

PortalPlayer had design wins in the first several generations of the Apple iPod but lost those design wins shortly before the acquisition. "When we acquired them, we knew they had no new design wins at Apple," said Rayfield.

Apple's iPhone uses an application processor made by Samsung. Rayfield said Nvidia will pursue the application processor business industry-wide with an aggressive roadmap.

"Traditionally this industry rolls out new application processor families every two or two-and-a-half years," he said. "We will have new families every year with variants coming out in between those families," he added.

However, gaining traction in the cellphone business will take time. Rayfield said he expects the new part to ship in personal navigation devices by the end of the year. By mid-2009, NVidia hopes to have design wins in cellphones made by original design manufacturers in Asia. It hopes to have design wins phones with branded first-tier handset makers by the end of 2009.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times

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