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Xoom powered by Nvidia, Atmel, STMicro chips, devices

Posted: 02 Mar 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Xoom? mXT1386? Tegra 2?

A preliminary teardown analysis by IHS iSuppli has revealed that inside Motorola Mobility Inc.'s Xoom media tablet are Atmel Corp.'s four-chip touch-screen controller solution and MEMS sensors from AKM Semiconductor Inc., Kionx Inc., STMicroelectronics NV and Bosch Sensortec GmbH. Also powering the tablet computer is Nvidia Corp.'s dual-core Tegra 2 applications processor.

The Motorola Xoom, now available in the U.S. through Verizon Wireless, features a 10.1-inch wide-screen HD display and is the first available device to run version 3.0 of Google Inc.'s Android, codenamed Honeycomb. Xoom retails for $599 with a two-year Verizon service agreement, and $799 without a service contract. Pricing for the Verizon 3G data service begins at $20 per month. Xoom tablets can be upgraded to Verizon's 4G LTE service at no extra charge beginning in the second quarter, though this requires a physical change to the tablet's hardware.

According to IHS, Xoom closely approximates Apple Inc.'s iPad in size and weight. But while the iPad lacks a camera, the Xoom includes both a 2-megapixel front-facing camera and a 5-megapixel auto focus primary camera, IHS noted.

IHS added that Xoom is available only in one configuration, with 32GB of NAND storage.

As has been previously reported, the Xoom features a dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor, the processor chosen by Google for the Android 3.0 reference platform. It also features 1GB of SDRAM for code storage, four times as much as the iPad, according to IHS.

Using the dual-core, ARM-based Tegra 2 enables the Xoom to run processes and software much faster than iPad, according to IHS. IHS said its teardown team discovered the same chip last year in an Android-based Toshiba AC100 smartbook. Tegra 2 is known to have nabbed several other design wins, including LG Electronics Co.'s Optimus Pad, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd's Galaxy Tab 10.1, and tablets from Acer and ASUS.

According to IHS, Tegra 2 provides very competitive performance relative to traditional microprocessors found in netbook PCs, which compete with media tablets.

The teardown found no 4G components in the Xoom aside from a dummy miniPCIe card, which is a placeholder for the LTE upgrade. This, the firm said, is the reason that Xoom owners must surrender their tablets back to the factory for a physical upgrade to 4G networking. Motorola did provide two MIMO antennas and a SIM card slot in preparation for the LTE upgrade, IHS said.

The Xoom uses the Atmel mXT1386 touch-screen controller, a new 32bit device capable of registering up to 16 discrete touch points, according to IHS. While IHS has previously identified single-chip Atmel touch-screen controllers in Android smartphones, this solution contains a whopping four-chip solution from Atmel.

IHS said the Xoom "seems to be pushing the bounds for integrating a large number of sensors in a tablet." In addition to CMOS image camera sensors, Xoom includes an electronic compass from AKM Semiconductor, a 3-axis accelerometer from Kionix, a 3-axis gyroscope from STMicroelectronics and a pressure monitor from Bosch Sensortec, the firm said.

According to HIS MEMS sensor expert Jrmie Bouchaud, the Bosch Sensortec pressure sensor works in conjunction with the Xoom's GPS system for indoor navigation applications.

- Dylan McGrath
??EE Times

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