ARM's next gen mobile device chipset, codenamed Eagle Core, hasn't even been officially announced, but Texas Instruments (TI) has already licensed it for OMAP, a family of systems on a chip (SoCs) used by gadget vendors in tablet PCs, smartphones, and other devices.
This week, TI became the first to license Eagle, an application processor chipset designed not just for mobile computers and smartphones but also for digital TVs and communications infrastructures. However, devices using the chipset won't ship until 2012 or later, wrote Anand Lai Shimpi in his AnandTech hardware analysis blog.
While TI's OMAP systems have already shown up in hundreds of phones, they've also been appearing in tablets such as the Nokia 770 Internet Tablet and TI's own Blaze Tablet. Blaze, a developers' tablet, will combine a 10.4-inch XVGA LCD touchscreen display, 3G and 4G LTE mobile support, and other high-end features at a pricetag of $2,259.
Eagle to soar above ARM's super fast A8 and A9
The Eagle will follow ARM's Cortex A8 core – widely regarded as one of the fastest processors available for smartphones today—as well as ARM's still forthcoming Cortex A9.
During a financial briefing in February, Warren East, CEO of UK-based ARM Holdings, told financial analysts gathered in London that the Eagle will ultimately supersede Cortex A9 as ARM's most powerful processor, according to an account in EE Times.
Shipment of Cortex A9-based SoCs from TI are anticipated later this year for devices slated to appear early in 2011.
In addition, Nvidia has already announced the Cortex A9 for use inside its Tegra-2 processor. Marvell Technology has unveiled a four-core implementation of the A9.
Eagle to vie with Intel's Moorestown
For further down the road, future derivatives of Eagle are getting mentioned already as contenders to Intel's Moorestown, a handheld MID and smartphone environment based on the Lincroft SoC with an Atom processor core.
In January of this year, Intel demo'd an OpenPeak tablet and an LG smartphone running on Moorestown with Intel's own Moblin Linux mobile OS.
Although a full announcement of the Eagle Core isn't expected until later in 2010, TI reportedly started working with ARM on defining Eagle way back in June of 2009, long before licensing the chipset this week.
Eagle, Heron and Merlin
During the financial briefing in February, ARM officials told analysts that ARM will launch three additions to its Cortex series during 2010 -- codenamed Eagle, Heron and Merlin -- and that each of these chipsets will have its own lead licensing customers.
For its part, Heron will be an embedded core aimed at use in automotive engine management, basebands and hard disk drive control.
Merlin, on the other hand, will be geared to industrial control, motor control, and embedded audio processing.
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