In an effort to fill a gap in processors for the expanding eReader and tablet market, Freescale Semiconductor announced at CES in Las Vegas two additions to its i.MX 6 processor portfolio.
The i.MX 6 series of compatible single-, dual- and quad-core applications processors was first announced at CES in 2011. Freescale says that it already has twenty-five active engagements underway, and i.MX 6 processors have been designed in by most top eReader OEMs, as well as multiple tablet manufacturers. Other recent design wins for i.MX 6 series processors include airline seatback infotainment systems, next-generation medical equipment, displays for test/measurement equipment, and advanced military/aerospace communications systems.
“What we have found in the last year or two is that there is a lot of segmentation happening. A lot of the different vertical markets are beginning to mature,” said Kumar. “A lot of the companies that are coming out with products are not coming out with a point product but are now starting to come out with a high, medium and low type of approach to their product line. As this has happened what we are finding is the need for additional computing nodes for single and dual core silicon.”
“So we are coming out with entry level single core and dual core products to fill the gap in our portfolio. This will enable us to address every tier of the market and choose the best price/ performance match.”
The new additions are the i.MX 6SoloLite processor, which is designed specifically for next-generation eReaders and is the follow-on to the company's i.MX508 device, the dual-core i.MX 6DualLite, targeting a broad array of smart devices and products including tablets, IPTVs, IP phones, medical patient monitoring systems and home energy management solutions.
Both processors incorporate ARM Cortex-A9 cores and E Ink controllers, enabling customers to simultaneously develop eReader and tablet products. The processors are software-compatible with other i.MX 6 series devices, and according Kumar, this scalability should enable the development end-product portfolios that can adjust and scale to meet evolving market demands and requirements.
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The single-core i.MX 6SoloLite integrates an ARM Cortex-A9 core running up to 1GHz with a 2D graphics processor and display controllers for EPD and LCD-based panels. It also introduces a simplified power management structure to be integrated across the i.MX 6 series for the reduction of design time and optimization of power efficiency.
Featuring software and pin compatibility with the i.MX 6Quad, i.MX 6Dual and i.MX 6Solo products, the dual-core i.MX 6DualLite has two ARM Cortex-A9 cores running up to 1 GHz, with integrated 2D- and 3D-graphics processors and a 1080p video processing engine. It supports HDMI, LVDS, MIPI and PCIe, all with a 64-bit DDR3/LVDDR3 memory interface running up to 800MT/s for high performance with rich connectivity.
The i.MX 6 series products support a range of operating systems, including Android Version 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), Linux, QNX, Ubuntu and Windows Compact 7.
According to Kumar Freescale are continuing to see growth in the monochrome eReader and this market in general which was shown by the recent research from iSupply. “In the monochrome eReader market we still see some substantial differences from the LCD-based products. There are major advantages for battery life, weight and a readability advantage. We are seeing a significant probation of the market that want a good reading experience which means that you can hold it up for a few hours.”
Freescale plans to begin shipping i.MX 6 Lite series devices in volume quantities in the second half of 2012.
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