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ARM11 SoC targets PMP, PNDs

May 27, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 2 views

Freescale Semiconductor has announced the latest in its i.MX line of Linux-friendly multimedia system-on-chips (SoCs) for mobile devices. Based on technology received when Freescale acquired SigmaTel, the i.MX37 processor is aimed at the portable media player (PMP), mobile Internet, and personal navigation device (PND) markets, says Freescale.

First discussed in March at its Freescale Technology Forum (FTF) event, the i.MX37 is Freescale's first processor based on the ARM1176JZF-S core, says the company. The similar, ARM11-based i.MX31 processor, which shipped in 2005, uses an ARM 1136JF-S core. The company's i.MX27 processor, announced last June, and its i.MX21, introduced in 2004, are both based on the widely used ARM926EJ-S core.

Aimed at battery-powered portable devices that provide audio and video playback, the i.MX37 device is clocked at 532MHz at 1.0V and can run with as little as 0.8V (at 200MHz), says Freescale. By comparison, the i.MX31 can be clocked from 532MHz to 665MHz, but at 532MHz requires at least 1.55V. The i.MX37's power consumption is also reduced thanks to the SoC's ARML210 L2 cache controller and Freescale's Smart Speed crossbar switch, which is said to “nearly eliminate wait states.”

i.MX37 architecture
(Click to enlarge)

According to Freescale, the i.MX37 is equipped with the MX line's “most advanced image processing unit (IPU) to date.” The IPU v3D technology is said to support up to 24-bit color depth at XGA resolution even on larger displays. Touted features include support for deblocking, deringing, video planes, and rotation, all in parallel with video decoding. The i.MX37 includes logic that decodes numerous video formats at up to D1 quality, says the company, and offers an integrated PAL/NTSC encoder with triple video DACs for improving large-screen displays.

Specs listed for the i.MX37 include:

  • CPU — ARM1176JZF-S core at up to 532MHz at 1.0V (200MHz at 0.8V)
  • Cache, support chips — ARML210 L2 cache; Jazelle Java acceleration; vector floating point coprocessor (VFP)
  • Format — 10×10, 302-ball MAPBGA package at 0.5mm pitch
  • Memory interface — 16/32-bit SDRAM (133MHz); mobile DDR (up to 333MHz)
  • Flash support — SLC, MLC NAND flash (8/16-bit)
  • Display — IPU v3D supporting 24-bit XGA
  • Multimedia features — accelerated video decoding; image/video resize, inversion, and rotation; deblocking, deringing, alpha blending, color space conversion
  • Video formats — MPEG4, H.264, WMV/VC-1, MPEG2, and H.263 up to 576 x 720 (D1) resolution
  • Video output — PAL/NTSC component, composite or S-video
  • I/O:
    • Fast Ethernet controller
    • High-speed USB OTG with PHY
    • 3 x MMC/SDIO up to 8-bit at 52MHz
    • Memory Stick/Memory Stick Pro
    • ATA-6
    • CE-ATA
    • S/PDIF TX
    • Configurable high-speed SPI x 3; SSI/I(2) x 3; UART x 3
  • Security features:
    • Electronically blown fuses for hardwiring device IDs and security codes into SoC
    • ARM TrustZone technology
    • Memory management unit (MMU)
    • Security controller (SCC)
    • Random number generator accelerator (RNGA)
    • Secure JTAG controller
    • Universal unique identification
    • Run-time integrity checker (RTIG)
    • High-assurance boot
    • Tamper detection
  • Operating temperature — -4 to 158 degrees F (-20 to 70 degrees C)
  • Operating system — Linux, Windows CE

Freescale provides both Linux and Windows CE board support packages (BSPs) for the processor, says the company. The kits include audio and video codecs and digital rights management (DRM) libraries.

Stated Paul Marino, GM of Freescale's Multimedia Applications Division, “With the i.MX37 processor platform and our recent acquisition of talent and technology from SigmaTel, Freescale is well positioned to engage with customers across a broad spectrum of the mobile consumer market — from simple audio players to sophisticated multimedia and portable GPS devices featuring high resolution video.”


Freescale is currently sampling the i.MX37 to selected high-volume OEMs and ODMs, along with both Linux and Windows CE BSPs. A demonstration is scheduled for June's FTF event. More on Freescale's i.MX37 may be available here.

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