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Marvell tips UMTS/TD-SCDMA combo chip, new open source dev platform

Feb 15, 2011 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 4 views

Marvell announced a 1.2GHz processor for mobile devices claimed to be the first to combine 3G UMTS and TD-SCDMA cellular technology. In addition to unveiling the PXA978 processor, which is also touted for its advanced 3D graphics and 1080p multimedia playback, Marvell announced an open source mobile development platform called Kinoma.

According to Marvell, the PXA978 offers a unique combination of UMTS (universal mobile telecommunications system) with China's TD-SCDMA (time division synchronous code division multiple access) — including HSPA (high speed packet access) support. This will allow developers to create smartphones or tablets that can be used globally, saving months of design time and cost, the company says.

China Mobile, the world's largest carrier with more than 500 million subscribers, recently reported that there are currently more than 18 million TD-SCMA users in China, says Marvell. That number is "expected to grow exponentially," the company adds.

Marvell says its "world phone development platform" will include not only the PXA978, but also the "industry's first Mobile MIMO" in the form of the Avastar 88W8797. This is an 802/11n 2×2 SoC (system on chip) "designed to support high data rates for next-generation mobile devices," says the company.

Regarding the PXA978, Marvell added that the chip is fabbed using a 40nm process, clocked at 1.2GHz, and capable of 1080p video playback. That's all the company (never lavish with information) had to say, though the "PXA" prefix indicates the device is part of the ARM-based XScale line Marvell acquired from Intel in 2006. That would imply compatibility with Linux, Windows CE. and Windows Mobile, but not Windows Phone 7.

Marvell co-founder Weili Dai (right), stated, "The quest to deliver seamless connectivity on a global scale requires fundamental breakthroughs in mobile telephony. I'm very proud of our engineering teams for continuously delivering some of the most innovative technologies in our industry. It's truly amazing that a tiny chip like the PXA978 integrates both 3G and TD-SCDMA basebands, a powerful application processor, and advanced 3D graphics capability, with a very low-power profile and affordable cost structure."

A new software platform

Marvell also announced Kinoma, modestly touted as "a software platform that will dramatically transform the way consumers interact with the devices that fuel their digital lives." It will allow developers to create software with a unified look and feel across an array of products, from handheld devices to smart appliances to "smart furnishings," the company says.

"Developers will be able to adapt Kinoma for any device they can imagine," Marvell says, adding that the software will be offered under an open source license. No word about what operating systems will be compatible with the platform was provided: a report by VentureBeat suggests it will work on "pretty much any," though a report by Engadget suggested it might only work with Android.

The announcement of Kinoma stems from Marvell's recent acquisition of a company by the same name. Kinoma was originally associated with its Kinoma Player 4 EX, a popular media player for Palm OS devices. In 2008, it released Kinoma Play (below), a media player for Windows Mobile 5.x and 8.x devices.

Marvell says the newest version of Kinoma Play is now the first product to be built on the Kinoma platform. "Featuring an elegant, touch-friendly design coupled with lightning fast speed," it offers 40 different functions, ranging from social networking, to digital media, to location, to search, the company adds.

Two different Kinoma software development kits (SDKs) will be provided, adds Marvell. The first SDK is for application developers to fully integrate their content and services into Kinoma-powered devices, while the second is for OEMs and manufacturers to port and customize Kinoma for their products.

A video of Marvell's Kinoma
(click to play)

Further information

Marvell did not say when its PXA978 processor will become available. Further information on Kinoma licensing and development will be offered "in the coming weeks," according to the company.

Kinoma Play is being demonstrated at the ongoing Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Courtyard CY15, says Marvell.

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