Today Texas Instruments announced their new OMAP5 platform, which they think till transform the concept of mobile because it “creates disruptive mobile experiences akin to Henry Ford’s transformative automobile advancements.” The 28nm OMAP5 platform features over a dozen specialized cores, but the ones we care about are the two Cortex-A15 MPcores which offer speeds up to 2 GHz per core.
The Cortex-A15 was first announced by ARM back in September and Texas Instruments was one of the three lead licensee partners. The A15 is the successor to the Cortex-A9 core found inside most dual-core platforms (like OMAP4 or Tegra 2) and it offers a 50% performance increase over A9 at clock-for-clock speeds.
Overall, the OMAP5 will deliver 3x the performance and 5x the graphics of the current generation OMAP4. TI went with Imagination Technologies to provide the GPU and the OMAP5 will feature the new multi-core PowerVR SGX544MP, which provides full support for DirectX 9 (Feature Level 3 with maximum hardware acceleration).
The OMAP5 wil also feature two ARM Cortex-M4 cores, which are specialized low-power processors designed to offload work from the main application processors and improve real-time responsiveness. Other additions to the OMAP5 include a multi-core imaging and vision processing unit, multi-core IVA HD video engine, and an advanced, multi-pipeline display sub-system that can support four simultaneous displays.
When it comes to availability, the OMAP5 is “expected to sample in the second half of 2011, with devices on the market in the second half of 2012.” In other words, don’t expect any actual OMAP5 products for another 1.5 to 2 years.
I’ve been pretty hard on Texas Instruments lately for failing to get consumers excited about buying OMAP products, so it’s nice to see them hold virtual press conferences and allow the media and bloggers to ask questions.
After today’s presentation, I’m still not sure how I view Texas Instruments from an Android perspective. They have yet to reveal any dual-core OMAP4 Android devices, but that is expected to change next week at Mobile World Congress. Hopefully we will see some awesome products, but most of the handset makers have already sided with NVIDIA (Motorola, LG) or Qualcomm (HTC) for the next generation of high-end, dual-core Android phones.
Texas Instruments also has the dual-core 1.5 GHz OMAP4440 coming in the second half of 2010, but that might have to compete with the quad-core 1.5 GHz Tegra 3 which we expect to be in devices by Christmas. It appears that TI will still have plenty of design wins, but at this stage I do not see them ruling the high-end smartphone market like they did the last couple years with the OMAP3 (Droid, Droid X, and Droid 2).
In closing, I appreciate that Texas Instruments is reaching out to bloggers and now I would like to see them reach out more to consumers. I understand that their main customers are primarily the handset and mobile device makers, but the industry is quickly changing and early adopters are beginning to become aware of the processors inside their devices. An average customer today could care less what CPU is inside their phone, but two years from now (when the OMAP5 hits) that could be a different story.
p.s. If someone from TI is reading this, please continue to focus on the end-user benefits that OMAP4 (and OMAP5) delivers and how that is different from your competition. For example, the first dual-core phone (Atrix 4G with Tegra 2) goes on pre-sale next week and I’m having a hard time explaining to people why they might want to wait on your dual-core and the advantages it offers. If all the dual-core processors are the same, why should we want to buy a phone that includes the OMAP4?
The OMAP 5 platform sports an impressive list of features and benefits supporting everything from open source platforms to complementary TI technologies, including:
|Two ARM Cortex-A15 cores, up to 2 GHz each||3x higher performance to deliver the promise of mobile computing|
|Two ARM Cortex-M4 cores||Low-power offload and real-time responsiveness|
|Multi-core 3D graphics and dedicated 2D graphics||5x higher graphics performance; accelerated and more responsive user interfaces|
|Multi-core imaging and vision processing unit||Next-generation computational photography experiences — face recognition, object recognition and text recognition|
|Multi-core IVA HD video engine||1080p60 HD video and high performance, low bit rate video teleconferencing|
|Advanced, multi-pipeline display sub-system||Supports multiple video/graphics sources for composition|
|Can support four simultaneous displays||Supports three high-resolution LCD displays (up to QSXGA) and HDMI 1.4a 3D display|
|High performance, multi-channel DRAM and efficient 2D memory support||Supports advanced use cases with multiple ARM cores and multimedia operation; provides better user experiences without lag or quality degradation|
|TI M-Shieldâ„¢ mobile security technology with enhanced cryptography support||End-to-end device and content protection|
|New, high-speed interfaces||Supports USB 3.0 OTG, SATA 2.0, SDXC flash memory and MIPI® CSI-3, UniPort-M and LLI interfaces to support higher Wi-Fi and 4G network and HD content data rates|
|Optimized audio, power and battery management platform solutions||Complementary TI devices for an optimized OMAP 5 platform solution|
|Next-generation connectivity technologies||HD wireless video streaming, wireless display, mobile payments and enhanced location-based services|
*Comparative statements compare OMAP 5 platform to OMAP4430 applications processor.