Next year is looking to be a very important year for smartphone and tablet performance. Just as we saw widespread migration to the ARM Cortex A8 and Qualcomm Scorpion CPU cores in smartphones in 2010, in the next 12 months we will see the first tablets and smartphones based on dual-core SoCs from TI, Qualcomm and NVIDIA. The long awaited Tegra 2 will start shipping in smartphones and tablets in early 2011, and Qualcomm will have its own 45nm dual-core Snapdragon SoCs featured in devices as well. Today TI is announcing more details on its OMAP 4440, a high performance dual-core Cortex A9 SoC slated for production in the second half of 2011.

The OMAP 4430 is a 45nm SoC expected to replace the current 3630 and 3430 used in high end smartphones today. The 3630 will move further downstream and exist within more mainstream smartphones.

The 4430 features a pair of ARM Cortex A9s running at 1GHz with a PowerVR SGX 540 GPU from Imagination Technologies. The Cortex A9 features a shorter pipeline than the current A8 and Scorpion cores and thus should boast a higher IPC. It also enables some amount of out-of-order execution.

The A9 cores share a 1MB L2 cache and are paired with two 32-bit LPDDR2 memory controllers. The memory bus can support LPDDR2 devices at data rates up to 400MHz. This gives the OMAP 4430 the potential to offer 4x the memory bandwidth of the 3630, which means better CPU and GPU performance as well as more flexibility with video.

The architectural improvements should result in significant performance gains in everything from OS interaction to web browsing. We’ve already seen real world improvements as high as 50% vs. existing A8/Snapdragon platforms.

The PowerVR SGX 540 GPU is used in Samsung’s Hummingbird SoC, which we’ve seen in the Galaxy S line of smartphones. This is already the fastest ultra mobile GPU we’ve tested, so its well suited for use in the 4430.

Today’s announcement isn’t about the 4430 however, it’s about the 4440. A higher performance OMAP4 variant, the 4440 is still built on a 45nm process, it still features a pair of Cortex A9s and a PowerVR SGX 540 GPU - but it just runs faster.

OMAP 4440 vs. 4430 Feature List - Provided by TI
Feature Benefit
Two ARM Cortex A9 MPCores @ 1.5GHz each 50% increase in overall performance, 33% reduction in webpage load time
End-to-end graphics acceleration enhancement (triangles per second, fill rate and shaders) 25% increase in overall graphics performance
Support for HDMI v1.4 3D modes Full 1080p HD S3D playback to 3D TV
1080p60 video format support 2x higher performance video playback
Support for up to two 12-megapixel cameras in parallel Higher stereoscopic resolution encode enabling stereo photography, which meets the same resolution previously experienced only with 2D photography
IVA 3 multimedia hardware accelerator Industry’s highest quality video playback at low bit rates
Complete pin-to-pin hardware and software compatibility Easy migration from the OMAP4430 processors

The A9s run at 1.5GHz and although TI isn’t announcing the SGX 540’s clock speed, it promises a 25% increase in overall graphics performance (triangle rate, fill rate). Presumably the GPU is clocked 25% higher than in the 4430 (which could be as high as 400MHz).

There are more video features on the 4440 as well. You get 60 fps 1080p decode support (bitrate limitations aren't completely fleshed out, but TI has some details in a whitepaper- PDF link), and the SoC supports up to two 12-megapixel camera sensors (potentially for use in high resolution stereoscopic 3D photography). HDMI 1.4 and stereoscopic 3D are also supported by the SoC.

OMAP 4440 Mobile Video Teleconferencing Features - Provided by TI
Mobile video teleconferencing component OMAP4440 processor-enabled feature
High-quality mobile video conferencing Improved video quality in low-light conditions; video stabilization
Chat software (i.e., Skype or Google Talk) Video codec support includes H.264, VP7, H.263, SVC, and more
Peer-to-peer (1 local user with one other user) chat functionality 1080p mobile video conferencing
Multi-chat (1 local user with up to 4 other users) functionality 720p resolution with stereo audio support
Cloud access for simultaneous application support (e.g., browsing the web while chatting or document sharing) Optimized symmetric multiprocessing architecture to deliver low latency and high bandwidth support

The OMAP4440 is pin compatible with the OMAP4430 and thus can be dropped into existing OMAP4 designs if need be. The SoC will be sampling in Q1 2011 and be in production in 2H 2011. I’d expect the 4440 to be used in tablets while the 4430 seems more like a smartphone SKU.

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  • Kensei - Wednesday, December 08, 2010 - link

    Thanks for the update. Speaking of dual-core smartphone chips... any news on the Atom Z600? Looked promising based on your article back in May. Reply
  • Roland00Address - Wednesday, December 08, 2010 - link

    "The long awaited Tegra 2 will start shipping in smartphones and tablets in early 2011"

    Tegra 2 is already in tablets
    See page 6 of your Holiday Smartphone Buyer's Guide (written by Vivek Gowri and Brian Klug)
    http://www.anandtech.com/show/4047/holiday-smartph...
    They may be shitty tablets that don't have android marketplace and are running Android 2.2, but Tegra 2 is currently out.
    Reply
  • Raghu - Wednesday, December 08, 2010 - link

    Good that the Tegra2 phones are coming in a few months. Tegra2 tablets are shipping already though - Viewsonic GTab and Advent Vega. The Motorola Olympus + Honeycomb looks awesome too. Reply
  • geniekid - Wednesday, December 08, 2010 - link

    Exciting news, but I wonder what the increase in power consumption is when you double the number of cores AND increase clock frequency even with a transition from 65nm to 45nm. If I had to choose between a phone that runs 50% faster than my existing phone (HTC Incredible) or a phone with 50% longer battery life, at this moment in time I would choose the latter. Reply
  • IntelUser2000 - Wednesday, December 08, 2010 - link

    "when you double the number of cores AND increase clock frequency"

    Unless you know, its not going to do the latter.

    "I’d expect the 4440 to be used in tablets while the 4430 seems more like a smartphone SKU."
    Reply
  • mpschan - Wednesday, December 08, 2010 - link

    Isn't one of the benefits behind having faster processors in mobile devices the fact that you can return to low power states faster? OoO should greatly help there, and having an additional core should help on multi-threaded apps greatly when CPU bound.

    Given how good companies are getting at idle power consumption, you could see improved battery life with these new processors. Gotta wait to see though.
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, December 08, 2010 - link

    Nvidia is claiming that power consumption will indeed drop for that very reason, but of course we'll have to wait and see with actual shipping phones. Reply
  • MySchizoBuddy - Wednesday, December 08, 2010 - link

    Nvidia is claiming power drop if the dual processors are running at 500Mhz each not 1GhZ and certainly not 1.5GHz. Check the Nvidia chart again. Reply
  • MySchizoBuddy - Wednesday, December 08, 2010 - link

    Sorry it says for the same load, the processors will run at 500Mhz, to see the power drop.
    http://www.engadget.com/2010/12/08/nvidia-touts-th...
    Reply
  • Exodite - Wednesday, December 08, 2010 - link

    Irrelevant.

    If the workload is large enough to full load two cores, be that at 1.0 or 1.5GHz, a dual-core will complete said workload in half the time of a single-core and will spent the remaining time idling.

    In either case there's a net win in power efficiency.
    Reply

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