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HD-ready smartphone supports Linux and Android

Dec 1, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 76 views

ZiiLabs announced a mid-range smartphone development platform supporting its Android and Linux-based “Plaszma” stacks. The Zii Trinity is based on ZiiLabs' dual ARM9-core “ZMS-05” SoC, and provides 1080p video output, OpenGL graphics, HSDPA, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, and a 3.1-inch, 800 x 480 OLED touchscreen, says the Creative Technology subsidiary.

ZiiLabs broke onto the Linux/Android scene in July when it announced a portable media player (PMP) called the Zii Egg StemCell Computer (pictured farther below) based on its homegrown ZMS-05 system-on-chip (SoC), which is equipped with dual ARM926 EJ-S cores. Like the Zii Trinity, the Zii Egg can run both its "Plaszma" Linux distribution and its "Optimized Android" stack.

In early November, ZiiLabs followed up with an heir to the ZMS-05 called the ZMS-08, based on a 1GHz Cortex-A8 core and offering OpenGL ES 2.0 graphics. Like the ZMS-05, the ZMS-08 offers ZiiLabs' StemCell Computing array, which features up to 64 programmable floating point processing elements that offload media processing tasks from the ARM core(s). As a result, both chips offer 1080p playback using H.264, plus 1080p, 24fps encoding, and simultaneous H.264 encode and decode at 720p for videoconferencing.

Like the similar Zii Egg, the Zii Trinity 3.5G Concept Phone (pictured above right) runs on the ZMS-05. A clock rate is not mentioned, but the company claims that with its 24 floating-point processors, the SoC can deliver up to 8 GFLOPS of raw processing power. Memory for the Zii Trinity is listed at 256MB, and although no internal flash is listed, the block diagram, seen farther below, shows support for up to 64GB NAND flash. (The Egg ships with 32GB flash.) A microSD slot is also provided.

Like the Zii Egg, the Zii Trinity is an OEM/ODM reference design, as opposed to a commercial product, and it similarly supports 1080p HD video, WiFi, GPS, and Bluetooth. The Trinity has a smaller 3.1-inch capacitive touchscreen, compared to the Egg's 3.5-inch display, but offers 800 x 480 resolution and OLED display technology. No physical keyboard is provided.

Zii Trinity block diagram

The Zii Trinity also adds 3G cellular capability with HSDPA, and supports Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE and Tri-band WCDMA networks. Future versions are expected to run 4G technologies such as WiMAX and LTE, says Zii Labs.

In addition to providing a five-megapixel camera on the back of the phone, the Zii Trinity is supplied with a VGA webcam. The phone also offers mini-HDMI and Composite Video outputs, as well as Creative Labs' X-Fi audio technology, says the subsidiary.

Features and specifications listed for the Zii Trinity 3.5G Concept Phone include:

  • Processor — Zii Labs ZMS-05
  • Memory — 256MB low-power DDR memory
  • Flash expansion — MicroSD and SIM card slots
  • Display — 3.1-inch, 800 x 480, "multi-touch" capacitive, OLED touchscreen with 16M colors
  • Wireless:
    • Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE
    • Tri-band WCDMA
    • HSDPA Cat 8 at 7.2Mbps
    • 802.11 b/g WiFi
    • Bluetooth 2.1 EDR
    • Hardware GPS
  • Cameras — 5 megapixel auto-focus camera; VGA webcam for videoconferencing
  • I/O:
    • USB 2.0 micro port
    • Mini HDMI port for 1080p video output
    • Composite video output
  • Audio — Xtreme Fidelity X-Fi audio; speaker; headset jack
  • Battery — 1130mAH lithium polymer battery
  • Operating system — Zii Optimized Android and Plaszma (Linux)

Zii Egg StemCell Computer

The Zii Trinity is available to potential cellphone manufacturers as part of a design package that includes schematics, Gerbers, mechanical drawings, and a Linux/Android Board Support Package (BSP) and middleware, says Zii Labs. The package includes a Zii Development Kit 3G Phone Edition, billed as a modular development platform that enables developers to "create product solutions based on their own preference of hardware components."

The Zii Development Kit supports both the ZMS-05 and the ZMS-08, suggesting that the newer processor, which is primarily aimed at netbooks and larger consumer electronics devices, might find its way into a future high-end version of the Zii Trinity.

The Linux-based Plaszma OS enables native Linux based development via optimized, industry-standard APIs that support multimedia CODECs, a Web 2.0 browser, 2D and 3D graphics, audio processing, and "a powerful gesture based user interface," says Zii Labs. The Optimized Android OS, meanwhile, is said to "leverage the capabilities of the ZMS-05's StemCell Computing architecture," as well as "seamless 3D OpenGL ES acceleration and High Definition video."

Stated Hock Leow, President of ZiiLabs, "The Zii Trinity is a proven media-rich platform that offers our partners a complete market-ready solution with the built-in flexibility for customization. We are showcasing an exciting 3.5G concept phone at the Zii Summit 2009."


Zii Labs did not offer pricing or availability information on the Zii Trinity 3.5G Concept Phone. More information may be found here.

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