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Processor brings down next-gen e-reader costs

Posted: 03 Mar 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:processor? e-reader? NAND? USB?

Freescale Semiconductor has released the i.MX508 applications processor, the first SoC to integrate advanced ARM Cortex-A8 technology together with the newest hardware-based display controller from E Ink.

The highly-integrated i.MX508 processor is designed to deliver the performance, energy efficiency and system cost savings necessary to help OEMs evolve and grow the dynamic e-reader product category.

With the ARM core running at 800MHz, the i.MX508 provides twice the rendering performance of Freescale's previous e-reader 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.

The i.MX508 is notable for its support of next-generation e-reader panels, which are expected to feature larger dimensions, faster page turns and significantly better resolution. The processor supports panel resolutions up to 2048 x1536 pixels at 106Hz. Leveraging the ARM Cortex-A8 engine, the i.MX508 processor has the potential performance to quickly handle complex image manipulations and color processing.

"Freescale ended 2009 with a strong market share lead in applications processors for e-readers, and now we are cementing our leadership in the e-reader space with the introduction of the i.MX508 device," said Bernd Lienhard, VP and general manager of Freescale's multimedia applications division. "Working closely with E Ink and our customers, we are able to offer an integrated silicon solution to facilitate lower e-reader retail prices and enable the next phase of growth in the eBook market."

By integrating the E Ink display controller, the 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 processor also helps OEMs lower costs by integrating dual USB/PHY and cost-effective raw NAND memory.

"The integration of the ePaper display controller into the newest i.MX processor will help lower costs while enabling the next generation of E Ink display-based e-readersa great combination for customers," said Sriram Peruvemba, VP of marketing for E Ink.

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, e-readers, smart phones and other mobile consumer products.

"DisplaySearch forecasts that the worldwide eBook/e-reader device shipment will triple that of 2009, increasing to over 14 million units in 2010," said Jennifer Colegrove, director of display technologies at DisplaySearch, a leading industry analyst firm. "Key to this growth will be improving the quality of the digital reading experience while simultaneously making it affordable. The results coming from the Freescale and E Ink collaboration are very encouraging."

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