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ARM SoCs target phones, netbooks

Feb 13, 2009 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 4 views

Qualcomm has announced four mobile chipsets, three with Scorpion cores based on ARM Ltd.'s ARMv7 architecture. The ARM11-based MSM7227 targets sub-$150 smartphones, listing specific support for Google's Android, while the Scorpion-based MSM8260, MSM8660, and MSM8270 target high-end devices with HD video, the company says.

According to Qualcomm, its new MSM7227 chipset is “designed to enable high-performance, sub-$150 smartphones.” While few technical specs of the MSM7227 are currently available, the device is apparently intended as an upgrade to the company's MSM7225. The MSM7225, announced two years ago, includes an ARM11 application processor, clocks at 528MHz, and has started making its way into low-cost Windows Mobile phones such as the HTC Touch 3G and the O2 XDA Guide, pictured above.

Like the MSM7225, the MSM7227 comes in a 12mm x 12mm package, says Qualcomm. The chipset includes a 600MHz applications processor with a floating point unit, a 320MHz DSP, a 400MHz modem processor, and hardware-accelerated 3D graphics, according to the company.

The MSM7227 is said to feature the same 30fps “WQVGA” video encoding/decoding, integrated GPS, WiFi, and Bluetooth support that was claimed for the MSM7225. However, the chipset now supports cameras up to eight megapixels rather than five, while Bluetooth revs from 2.0 to 2.1.

Qualcomm also says the MSM7227 chipset provides lower power consumption than the MSM7225, though this wasn't quantified. “Manufacturers already using Qualcomm's MSM7xxx-series chipsets can transition easily to the MSM7227 platform, as the software is virtually identical and the package pin layout is very similar,” the company claims.

Qualcomm said that the MSM7227 supports “all major” mobile operating systems, including the Linux-basd Android stack, Symbian S60, Windows Mobile, and BREW Mobile Platform.

Higher-end devices

While the MSM7227 might enjoy the most likely traction in today's market, Qualcomm also announced three higher-end chipsets that appear suitable for fancy phones or even netbooks. The MSM8260, MSM8660, and MSM8270 offer a 1.2GHz “Scorpion” applications processor, a 600MHz DSP, and “full 1080p” HD video playback and recording, according to Qualcomm.

Again, technical details are thin on the ground, but the new devices, built using a 45nm process and touted as “pin-, software-, and functionality-compatible,” apparently supplement earlier products such as the QSD8250 and QSD8650. The Scorpion, which like ARM's Cortex-A8 is reportedly based on the ARMv7 instruction set, was clocked at 1GHz in previous Qualcomm chipsets, but, as mentioned above, has now been bumped to 1.2GHz.

Touted as enabling “innovative 3D/2D interfaces and console-quality gaming,” the MSM8260, MSM8660, and MSM8270 are said to support displays with resolutions all the way up to a netbook-like 1280 x 960 pixels. The devices also support cameras up to 16 megapixels, 5:1 surround sound, and HD video, according to Qualcomm.

Qualcomm says its new MSM8xxx chipsets now support Russia's GLONASS navigation satellites, as well as the U.S.A.'s GPS network. The MSM8260 supports 3GPP Release 7 HSPA+ (high speed packet access plus) for data rates of up to 28Mbps. The MSM8660 adds support for 3GPP/3GPP2 multimode, and the MSM8270 adds support for Release 8 dual-carrier HSPA+, for even higher data rates of up to 42Mbps, claims Qualcomm.

Qualcomm did not list OS support for the MSM8xxx.


According to Qualcomm, the MSM8260 and MSM8660 will begin sampling in the fourth quarter of this year, while the MSM8270 will begin sampling in mid-2010. The MSM7227, meanwhile, is said to be sampling now, and smartphones based on it will launch later this year, the company says.

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