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ARM SoC clocks to 2GHz, runs Linux

Jun 2, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 2 views

[Updated Jun. 3] — Marvell is sampling a new family of high-performance, ultra-low-power system-on-chips (SoCs) targeting IP-based home gateways, set-top boxes (STBs), home routers, media servers, and mobile Internet devices (MIDs). The Linux-compatible Marvell 88F6000 chips integrate Feroceon cores that clock to 2GHz, and draw 2 Watts, Marvell says.

The Marvell 88F6000 can act as either a main processor or as a co-processor, says Marvell. As a co-processor in set-top boxes and other video rendering equipment, it can offload applications such as GUIs and web browsers from a primary video processor, thereby improving performance.

Although primarily intended for home gateways, media servers, and other home networking appliances, the SoC can also be incorporated into PCs, turning them into network-attached storage (NAS) appliances, says Marvell. This configuration enables PCs operating in stand-by mode to download large files, or back themselves up to other network storage devices while minimizing power consumption, says the company.

Another suggested application is in Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs) and other small-form computers. Another chipmaker, Nvidia, also announced a powerful ARM-based SoC targeting MIDs today, the Tegra 600 series.

Marvell did not describe the new 88F6000 parts' “Shiva” cores in detail, but says they are backward compatible with existing Marvell processors, and ship with development software. Thus, they likely use the same Feroceon ARM architecture implementation that Marvell uses in its other storage-oriented chip-level products. The diagram below discloses some details about the new parts.

Marvell 88F6000 architecture
(Click to enlarge)

The 88F6000 SoCs are offered in three progressively more powerful versions: the 88F6180, 88F6192, and the 88F6281. The latter is clockable to 2GHz, while consuming under two Watts, Marvell claims. Each of the “highly-integrated” SoCs comes with I/O including two SATA ports, a USB port, a PCI Express (PCIe) port, and an an SDIO port.

Stated Dr. Paramesh Gopi, GM of Marvell's embedded chip group, “Consumers want instant access to high quality video, photos, and other content from multiple sources distributed throughout the home.”


Marvell is currently sampling the 88F6000 series, but pricing and availability of volume shipments were not disclosed. The company will be demonstrating the SoC at the Computex 2008 in Taipei, Taiwan, which runs from June 3-7.

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