Not to be outdone by NVIDIA, Samsung also went ahead and announced their next-generation dual-core CPU for smartphones. Named the Orion, it will feature a pair of 1GHz ARM Cortex-A9 cores paired with an enhanced GPU that offers 5x the the 3D graphics performance over the previous generation Hummingbird.
NVIDIA is also claiming 5x graphics performance of previous generation single-core CPUs, so it will be interesting to see these two processors go head-to-head and find out who comes out on top. Little is known about the complete architecture of NVIDIA’s Tegra 2 system-on-chip, but Samsung could have the advantage with modifications they have made to the ARM Cortex-A9 reference design. Samsung included several bonuses like a 1MB L2 cache to optimize CPU processing performance, added support for DDR3 memory, and features an onboard native triple display controller.
Samsung has been using a PowerVR SGX GPU from Imagination Technologies, so it’s likely we will see the next-gen version being used with the Orion processor. I haven’t heard of any units shipping yet, but the Orion could be the first system-on-chip to get the new SGX Series5XT GPU (which is rumored for a wide range of SoCs from Apple, Intel, Sony, TI).
The Orion will be available to “select customers” in the fourth quarter and mass production will occur in 2011. This means Samsung will use their own CPU in the next generation of Galaxy smartphones, which I expect will launch before Christmas. Some analyst had claimed Samsung had a Q4 hole, but you have to be crazy to think the nations largest handset maker would miss out on the important holiday shopping season.
Another possible customer for the Orion processor could be the rumored Playstation phone from Sony Ericsson. The Sony Playstation Portable 2 is also rumored to include the PowerVR SGX Series5XT GPU, so it makes sense both devices would be based around a similar platform.
Qualcomm and Texas Instruments have also said they would have dual-core CPUs available in Q4, but we have yet to hear any official product announcements. HTC is working with the new dual-core Qualcomm in the HTC Glacier device, but we know it’s Adreno 205 GPU will be less powerful than the current Samsung Hummingbird. We could also see TI’s OMAP4 in a Motorola smartphone this year, but once again that GPU is the same as the Hummingbird (SGX540).
Who do you think will produce the best dual-core processor for smartphones this year? Will it be NVIDIA or Samsung?Show Press Release
Samsung Introduces High Performance, Low Power Dual CORTEXTM – A9 Application Processor for Mobile Devices
TAIPEI, Taiwan–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., a world leader in advanced semiconductor solutions, today introduced its new 1GHz ARM® CORTEXTM A9-based dual-core application processor, codenamed Orion, for advanced mobile applications. Device OEM developers now have a powerful dual processor chip platform designed specifically to meet the needs of high-performance, low-power mobile applications including tablets, netbooks and smartphones. Samsung’s new processor will be demonstrated at the seventh annual Samsung Mobile Solutions Forum held here in Taiwan at the Westin Taipei Hotel.
“Consumers are demanding the full web experience without compromise while on the go,” said Dojun Rhee, vice president of Marketing, System LSI Division, Samsung Electronics. “Given this trend, mobile device designers need an application processor platform that delivers superb multimedia performance, fast CPU processing speed, and abundant memory bandwidth. Samsung’s newest dual core application processor chip is designed specifically to fulfill such stringent performance requirements while maintaining long battery life.”
Designed using Samsung’s 45 nanometer low-power process technology, Orion features a pair of 1GHz ARM Cortex A9 cores, each comes with a 32KB data cache and a 32KB instruction cache. Samsung also included a 1MB L2 cache to optimize CPU processing performance and provide fast context switching in a multi-tasking environment. In addition, the memory interface and bus architecture of Orion supports data intensive multimedia applications including full HD video playback and high speed 3D action games.
Samsung’s new application processor incorporates a rich portfolio of advanced multimedia features implemented by hardware accelerators, such as video encoder/decoder that supports 30fps video playback and recording at 1080P full HD resolution. Using an enhanced graphics processing unit (GPU), the new processors are capable of delivering 5 times the 3D graphics performance over the previous processor generation from Samsung.
For design flexibility and system BOM cost reduction, Orion integrates a set of interfaces commonly used in mobile devices to configure various peripheral functionalities. For example, with this processor, customers have the choice to use different types of storage including NAND flash, moviNANDTM, SSD or HDD providing both SATA, and eMMC interfaces. Customers can also choose their appropriate memory options including low power LPDDR2 or DDR3, which is commonly used for high performance. In addition, a global positioning system (GPS) receiver baseband processor is embedded in the processor to seamlessly support location based services (LBS), which is critical in many emerging mobile applications.
Orion features an onboard native triple display controller architecture that compliments multi-tasking operations in a multiple display environment. A mobile device using the Orion processor can simultaneously support two on-device display screens, while driving a third external display such as a TV or a monitor, via an on-chip HDMI 1.3a interface.
Orion is designed to support package-on-package (POP) with memory stacking to reduce the footprint. A derivative of Orion, which is housed in a standalone package with a 0.8mm ball pitch, is also available.
Samsung’s new dual-core application processor, Orion, will be available to select customers in the fourth quarter of 2010 and is scheduled for mass production in the first half of 2011.