Sony recently released their touchscreen walkman, which is a pretty slick device. Sony Insider dissected one and what is absent, is about as interesting as what is there. Sony use to be a pretty big manufacturer of in house IC designs, everything from DSP,s to processors (like the Cell used in the PS3) to analog parts. So in this new walkman you would expect to see the Sony name on at least one or 2 parts. The main processor is a NEC ARM chip, RAM by Hynix, and Flash by Samsung so all said a pretty much off the shelf build.
Archive for May, 2009
TI has purchased Luminary Micro for an undisclosed amount of money. TI, one of the larger producers of embedded processors, and applications processors for mobile phones add significantly to their portfolio by adding Luminary, maker of ARM Cortex based microcontrollers. Most of TI’s line of processor are now ARM based. They do of course also make MCS-51 products as well as their VERY widely used DSP series (such as the TMS320 series).
Source: EE Times
Most companies saw dismal results in the 1Q of ’09. April however has seens a few rises. Both TSMC, and UMC saw increased sales, partly due to the Chinese stimulus package, and likely due in part to the release of the Kindle 2. Is it economic downturn over? Not likely, but at least there has been some shining lights amongst it.
IEEE Sprectrum has a neat article detailing 25 microchips that fundamentally changed the IC business (or could have). Some of them are as simple as the 555 timer chips, whose 23 transistors were used, and continue to be used in millions of projects. Some of the processors that made the list are the MOS 6502, Intel 8088 (of course) as well as the SPARC, and Acorn ARM.
There has been rumors flying a lot lately about Microsoft possibly making a version of Windows 7 available to run on ARM based processors. Intel obviously is very much against this happening, which is why it NEEDS to happen. The current CPU market is starting to get stale. Intel has around 80% marketshare, and AMD is struggling to compete. This does not lead to innovation on the scale we saw back in the 90’s when there were several processor companies making Windows compatible chips.
Currently the #1 processor for mobile devices is ARM (in its many flavors), It powers the iPhone, the Palm Pre, many Blackberries and hundreds of others. ARM processors run OS X, Android, PalmOS, and Windows Mobile (as well as Windows CE). We now are seeing growth in a new segment, Netbooks, and soon to be tablets. There are several of these that are ARM based and run flavors of linux, but the vast majority use Intel Atom CPU’s and run Windows XP.
ARM processors, clock for clock, are more powerful, and more efficient then the Intel Atom. Windows 7 running on ARM processors would open up vast new oppurtunities in the netbook/MID class of devices both in software, and hardware. And perhaps more importantly it would force both AMD,and Intel to compete with better and more innovative products. Intel would need to shift some of its focus away from AMD, and into competing with ARM, allowing AMD to grow as well. ARM licensing scheme would also allow us to break away from the choke hold that Intel currently holds on the x86 style architecture.
The end result? More speed, features, and efficiency for the consumer, and a much more stable processor industry.