Smartphones and tablets are going to get a lot more powerful next year.
While some of the smartphone CPUs we have today are fairly capable at 1GHz, the path they are taking is similar to the mainstream desktop and laptop processors – going multi-core.
Samsung today announced its next-generation dual-core 1GHz ARM Cortex A9-based dual-core application processor, codenamed Orion. Samsung says the chip is made for "high-performance, low-power mobile applications including tablets, netbooks and smartphones."
“Consumers are demanding the full web experience without compromise while on the go,” said Dojun Rhee, vice president of Marketing, System LSI Division, Samsung Electronics. “Given this trend, mobile device designers need an application processor platform that delivers superb multimedia performance, fast CPU processing speed, and abundant memory bandwidth. Samsung’s newest dual core application processor chip is designed specifically to fulfill such stringent performance requirements while maintaining long battery life.”
Designed using Samsung’s 45 nanometer low-power process technology, Orion features a pair of 1GHz ARM Cortex A9 cores, each comes with a 32KB data cache and a 32KB instruction cache. Samsung also included a 1MB L2 cache to optimize CPU processing performance and provide "fast context switching in a multi-tasking environment." In addition, Samsung boasts that the memory interface and bus architecture of Orion supports data intensive multimedia applications including full HD video playback and high speed 3D action games.
The Orion encoder/decoder supports 30fps video playback and recording at 1080P full HD resolution. The GPU is also beefed up, as Orion is capable of delivering five times the 3D graphics performance over the previous processor generation from Samsung, according to the company.
Considering that the Samsung Hummingbird chip currently has the best GPU in the smartphone market with the PowerVR SGX 540, we're anxiously waiting to see how much better Orion will be.
Orion features an onboard native triple display controller architecture that can drive two on-device display screens, while driving a third external display such as a TV or a monitor, via an on-chip HDMI 1.3a interface.
In addition, a global positioning system (GPS) receiver baseband processor is embedded in the processor.
Orion is designed to support package-on-package (POP) with memory stacking to reduce the footprint. A derivative of Orion, which is housed in a standalone package with a 0.8mm ball pitch, is also available.
Integrators using the chip will be able to choose from various storage options: NAND flash, moviNAND, SSD or HDD providing both SATA, and eMMC interfaces, as well as memory options including low power LPDDR2 or DDR3.
Samsung’s new dual-core application processor, Orion, will be available to select customers in the fourth quarter of 2010 and is scheduled for mass production in the first half of 2011.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2, anyone?