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TI builds graphics hardware into mobile chip

Rival for Intel's Carbonado?

Texas Instruments has updated its OMAP all-in-one mobile processor platform with a second-generation architecture that integrates graphics acceleration hardware, support for hi-res digicams and camcorders, and provides TV output.

Central to the new OMAP 2 is the incorporation of Imagination Technologies' PowerVR MBX graphics core, which TI licensed last April.

Intel has also licensed the technology, which is thought to form the basis for Carbonado, its mobile graphics chip which is due to ship next quarter. Indeed, TI's OMAP 2 processors, the OMAP 2410 and 2420, would seem to be geared to competing with Intel's next-generation XScale processor, Bulverde. Both makes of mobile processor are based on ARM technology.

Bulverde adds Wireless MMX, a set of multimedia-oriented data processing instructions, and QuickCapture, which supports four-megapixel still photography and high-resolution, 30fps video capture.

OMAP 2 - dubbed the "all-in-one entertainment architecture" - brings six-megapixel camera support to the TI platform, backed by DVD-quality video playback, hi-fi audio with 3D sound effects, analog and digital TV reception and output.

Just as Bulverde offers Wireless SpeedStep, a dynamic core voltage and clock adjustment system, so too does OMAP 2, although TI gives the technology a more prosaic name: System Power Manager. SPM also feature low battery and thermal shutdown protection.

TI calls OMAP 2 "the ideal DRM platform", coupling hardware encryption for better VPN performance with digital signature integration that can used to limit what content is downloaded to the device. The digital signature is checked periodically and whenever the host device is booted. To aid theft-prevention, the chip can store a handsets encoded IMEI code, blocking further use of the handset if anyone attempts to change its IMEI.

The OMAP 2410 is based on a 330MHz ARM 1136 core and integrates a 220MHz DSP and MBX, which can process up to two million polygons per second, the company said. Intel claims Carbonado will deliver 3mps performance.

The 2410 also integrates a DDR memory controller along with LCD, USB and camera control circuitry. Power management is handled by a separate chip.

The 2420's bigger sibling, the 2420, adds extra peripheral support and a video accelerator backed by 5Mb of on-die SRAM. It's this component that delivers six megapixel camera support, along with full-motion 640 x 480 video encoding at 30fps and TV-out.

TI said OMAP 2 processors will support all mobile operating systems, including Symbian, Windows Mobile, Linux, Nucleus and the Palm OS. The 2410 and the 2420, along with the TWL92230 power management chip, are expected to sample before July. ®

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