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WonderMedia unveils Cortex-A9 SoC

Jan 5, 2012 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 34 views

WonderMedia Technologies announced a Cortex-A9 processor with support for Android 4.0 and Windows Embedded Compact 7. The Prizm WM8950 is limited to a single, 800MHz ARM core, but the system-on-chip also offers an ARM Mali-400 3D graphics processing unit, 1080p video decoders, a security engine, and support for peripherals including HDMI, LVDS, and DVI video outputs.

Via Technologies' WonderMedia subsidiary, which specializes in low-cost, multimedia-focused ARM system-on-chips (SoCs), has gradually been working its way up the ARM food chain with its Prizm line, advancing from ARM9- to ARM11-based models (see farther below for background). With the new Prizm WM8950 (pictured), WonderMedia has skipped the Cortex-A8 generation to advance directly to Cortex-A9.

The WM8950 is said to be aimed at devices including smartbooks, smart TVs, networked projectors, digital signage, and thin clients. Operating system support is said to include Android 4.0 and Windows Embedded Compact 7.

The processor also supports "SmartStream for wireless display and multimedia streaming," WonderMedia says. Here, the company is referring to its Wi-Fi-enabled SmarStream Wireless Display (WiDi) device, said to allow users to directly stream movies and other digital content from a phone, tablet, or PC directly to their TVs.

Unlike most Cortex-A9 SoCs, there's only one processor core in the Prizm WM8950, and it's clocked to a modest 800MHz. However, following the path of earlier Prizms, WonderMedia aims to make up the difference on the WM8950 with multimedia co-processors. Most notably, the company's added an ARM Mali-400 graphics processing unit (GPU), supporting OpenGL ES and OpenVG 1.1.

In addition, the SoC is said to support 1080p video playback with the help of an onboard, video decoder/encoder that also supports H.264 encoding, according to WonderMedia. A hardware security engine is also said to be available.

Prizm WM8950 block diagram

(Click to enlarge)

The Prizm WM8950 supports an unknown quantity of DDR3 and LPDDR2 DRAM. It also supports NAND/SPI flash memory and SD/SDIO/MMC card readers, says the company.

Peripheral support is said to include HDMI, LVDS, and DVO video interfaces, as well as a CMOS sensor input for webcams. Additional I/O includes 10/100 Ethernet, USB 2.0, audio, SPI, I2C, UARTs, and GPIO.

Prizm background

The Prizm WM8950 builds upon earlier Prizm SoCs, starting with the ARM9-based Prizm 8510. That SoC is now defunct along with the subsequent 2010-issue, 600MHz Prizm MW8505.

The MW8505 was demonstrated at the 2010 Computex show on several Android tablets running on its "SmartTouch" tablet reference design: the Eken M001 and M003, as well as the FirstView PC707 and G-Link A8. At the same time Joyplus showed a seven-inch M702 Android tablet equipped with the processor.

These chips were replaced by another ARM9 SoC — a Linux-ready, 600MHz model called the WM8650, also available in a Via WM8650 tablet OEM design that was overclocked to 700-800MHz, according to various reports.

In May of last year, WonderMedia moved up to the ARM11 architecture with its 800MHz Prizm WM8710. The SoC is available with a Prizm WM8710 Tablet Reference Design Kit for Android and Windows CE tablets.


The WonderMedia PRIZM WM8950 platform is sampling now and is scheduled for volume shipments in the first quarter of 2012. More information may be found on the Prizm WM8950 product page.

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