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ARM11 SoC brings HD video to mobile devices

Feb 19, 2008 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 4 views

STMicroelectronics (STM) has announced a mobile applications processor aimed at letting mobile devices record and play HD video, and connect directly to HDTV displays. The Linux-compatible STn8820 is based on an ARM11 core, handles 720p (1280 x 720) video, and incorporates graphics technology licensed from AMD, according to STM.

The STn8820 runs Linux, Symbian, or Windows Mobile directly on an ARM1176JZF core, which clocks at up to 528MHz. There's 32KB each of instruction and data cache, along with 258KB of L2 cache. The core optionally supports ARM's TrustZone security technology, according to STM.

The chip supports low-power DDR RAM, and has both NOR and NAND flash interfaces, along with a DMA controller. On-chip memory can include up to 1MB of SRAM, and a 128KB ROM. On-chip peripheral interfaces include a USB 2.0 On-The-Go interface, while expansion interfaces include a host of high-speed MMC/SD Card/SDIO/Memory Stick Pro host controllers.

STMicroelectronics' STn8820
(Click to enlarge)

STM cites the STn8820's potential for long battery life, via its integrated STw4820 power management unit. This is said to offer “finegrain power domains,” along with dynamic voltage and frequency scaling.

The STn8820's “special sauce” is its graphical capability. The system-on-chip (SoC) can encode MPEG-4 video in realtime at resolutions up to 720p, and play back any major video standard on a connected SD or HD television, according to STM. It's also said to provide “immersive gaming” with advanced per-pixel shader effects. The chip also integrates a color LCD controller and camera interface.

Graphics features listed by STM for the STn8820 include:

  • MPEG-4 realtime encoding/decoding, up to HDTV 720P @ 30fps
  • H.264, VC1, MPEG-2, DiVx encoding/decoding up to SDTV @ 30fps
  • JPEG fast encode/decode

  • Embedded real-time image reconstruction
  • High-resolution camera sensor support up to eight megapixels
  • OpenGL-ES v1.2 and v2.0 compliant
  • OpenVG 1.1 compliant
  • Multiple display support, with interfaces for STN/TFT touchscreens
  • SDTV and HDTV outputs

It's AMD vs. Nvidia all over again

The release of the STn8820 will cause feelings of deja vu to anyone who has followed AMD's (and, before it was acquired by AMD, ATI's) battles with Nvidia for supremacy in the graphics space. That's because earlier this week, Nvidia announced its own ARM-based SoC with HD video and gaming capabilities, the APX 2500.

The APX 2500 uses an identical ARM core, with the same clock speed and specifications. The only significant difference between it and the STn8820 appears to be in their graphics circuits. Also, nVidia has so far announced support for Windows Mobile only.


STM has not announced when the STn8820 will be sampling or shipping. It will be packaged initially in a VFBGA (very fine-pitched ball-grid array) measuring 12 x 12 x 0.4 mm.

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