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Application processor delivers 1GHz at <1W

Posted: 26 Apr 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:application processor? MPU? embedded?

Ushering in new and green applications, including its emerging "plugtop PC" effort, Marvell Technology Group Ltd has released the Armada 310 low-power application processor.

Based on ARM Holdings plc's MPU technology and a 55nm process from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd, the Armada 310 is said to deliver performance up to 1GHz while consuming less than 1W of power.

The 310 expands Marvell's Armada family of embedded processors into the server or enterprise realm. The company also sells other processors that are geared for the client side, including 2GHz chips. In this embedded processor segment, Marvell competes against Cavium, Freescale, Intel, Texas Instruments and others.

The new MPU opens the doors to new green embedded enterprise markets, such as digital homes, medical, financial and point-of-sale, said Viren Shah, senior director of marketing for the embedded SoC product line at Marvell.

For years, the industry was mainly interested in performance in systems, but the tide has been turning. "Power is critical now," Shah said.

The new device could also point towards the future direction for Marvell's "plugtop PCs." Last year, Marvell announced a so-called Plug Computing initiative and a $99 developer's kit using its 1.2GHz ARM-based processor to drive it.

At the time, the company envisioned a variety of "wall-warts" that build in its so-called Sheeva applications processors and act like embedded home computers. The plugtop PC is the size of a pack of cigarettes and let users remotely access content on their home net while drawing a fraction of the power of a full Windows PC.

Since the announcement, Marvell has signed up several partners in the arena. ODM-like companies, including Ionics, Universal Scientific Industrial and others, have devised plugtop PCs based on Marvell's technology. Plugtop PCs are gaining interest from OEMs and carriers, Shah said.

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