The ARMADA 1500 (88DE3100) is a media SoC with a dual core PJ4B superscalar host processor. It is targeted towards IP/Cable/Satellite STBs, premium Blu-ray players / DMAs and Google TV applications.

The following block diagram reveals the structure of the 88DE3100 SoC:

We will take a look at the I/Os first:

  • A/V Inputs: Just like the CE4100, the Marvell chip also has Transport Stream inputs and support for digital inputs (plain YUV / RGB). The TS inputs are probably not of much use in Google TV applications, but I can definitely see the digital inputs being used in cases where the device needs to have a HDMI input (from a STB output) for blending / overlay.
  • A/V Outputs: The SoC has a HDMI 1.4 compliant TX PHY with 1080p60 / frame and field interleaved 3D support and 12b Deep Color capability. HD audio bitstreaming and CEC support are also available. along with various combinations of component / composite / S-Video and digital audio outputs.
  • Memory Interface: 32-bit DDR3 DRAM running at 800 MHz provides for 61.2 Gbps of maximum theoretical bandwidth. Up to 1 GB of DRAM is supported.
  • NAND Controller: This is a 8 bit interface running at 50 MHz compliant with ONFI 1.0 specifications. Up to 2 GB of NAND Flash is supported.
  • Peripherals: SATA3, USB 2.0 Host, USB 2.0 Slave, SD3.0 controller, Two Fast Ethernet (100 Mbps) ports and other miscellaneous peripherals round up the SoC features.

Marvell's PJ4B

The PJ4B CPU core was first sampled by Marvell in October 2010. It is supposed to be compatible with Cortex-A9 and delivers similar instruction throughput per cycle. Being a custom designed architecture, it has the capability to clock at a higher rate compared to off-the-shelf Cortex-A9s. While ARM estimates that the Cortex-A9 can provide around 2.5 DMIPS/MHz/Core, Marvell claims that the PJ4B can provide up to 2.61 DMIPS/MHz/Core (take this for what it is worth).

Each PJ45B core in the 88DE3100 is supported by a 4-way 32KB I-Cache and a 8-way 32KB D-Cache. There is a common 512KB coherent L2 cache.

Unlike the previous members of the ARMADA lineup which didn't have NEON support, the 88DE3100 supports both NEON VFPU and Intel WMMX. The cores are clocked at 1.2 GHz, delivering up to 6000 DMIPS of performance. This sort of performance enables the 88DE3100 to support Flash enabled web browsers and other such key areas necessary for Google TV to shine

vMeta Engine

The vMeta video decoder supports more formats than I have ever seen on any media processing chip (Sigma and Realtek included!). The 88DE3100 provides for dual stream decode acceleration of

  • H.264 High Profile @ Level 4.1, 4.2 and 5; Multiple View Coding
  • VC-1 Advanced profile @ level 3, WMV9 MP@HL
  • AVS 6.2
  • VP6/8 SD and HD
  • RV9/10 (RMVB up to 1080p)
  • Low Delay Mode (progressive refresh) support for H.264 Baseline profile

The vMeta engine also supports JPEG/PNG/GIF/TIFF/BMP/Animated GIF decoding acceleration up to 50MP/s. A number of containers are also specified as being supported officially, but that is usually a matter of firmware.

Qdeo Post Processing

The Qdeo post processing engine performs per-pixel 3D noise reduction, 3D de-interlacing, scaling, natural depth expansion, intelligent color remapping and adaptive contrast enhancement. I am quite sure this would compare favorably with whatever Sigma Designs has up its sleeve in the VXP post processing engine in the SMP8910.

Vivante's GC1000

One of the complaints I had about the 88DE3010 (ARMADA 1000) was the absence of a 3D graphics engine. The 88DE3100 takes care of that by including the GC1000 GPU from Vivante. The GPU supports OpenGL-ES 1.1 / 2.0, something necessary for XBMC to run on the chip. The GPU itself clocks at 750 MHz (with a maximum theoretical DRAM bandwidth of 3.2 Gbps), providing for 375M vertex/S and 750M pixel/S vertex and texture rates. A separate 3D drawing and stretch BLT engine (400M pixel/S fill rate) is used in cases where the 3D engine is an overkill.

The Audio DSP is a 500 MHz superscalar processor capable of executing 4 instructions per cycle. and is complemented by a 800 MHz audio post processing engine. This allows for simultaneous decoding, post processing and downmixing of audio channels. A 500 MHz security processor takes care of multiple cryptography functions to keep the DRM believing folks happy.

Power Consumption

The SoC itself is specified to have a maximum power consumption of 5.3W, with a recommendation to budget for up to 6.5W TDP based on system design. With this power profile, it is indeed possible to have fanless operation with a passive cooling solution.


Introduction Final Words : Where is Google TV Headed?
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  • ganeshts - Thursday, January 5, 2012 - link

    The issue is that there is still no device out there which combines premium OTT services with good local media playback capability. Boxee Box comes close, but imperfect support for Blu-ray ISOs / folder structures and the HD audio dropout fiasco ruined that.

    If there is a GoogleTV box for $100 - $150 and it gives consumers the best of local media and premium OTT services, I wager that people will be lining up to give them a go.
  • jjj - Thursday, January 5, 2012 - link

    That might be but Google needs a bigger market and this has to go in all kind of devices so while media playback tasks should be there and done very well ,i would look at other major features that actually define the thing.The use of this SoC does suggest GTV will be more media orientated but a lot more has to be done to make it a must have device.
  • gonzo98x - Thursday, January 5, 2012 - link

    With access to the market and at some point games from the market.

    Google for all intents and purposes has just made its own console. (So to speak). You have to wonder if the big three have noticed this and what they intend to do.

    Granted that most games from iOS and Android are for casual gaming on the go but as the market matures this could easily change.

    Board games like monopoly played on your TV with the whole family for starters.

    Now where did I put that popcorn???
  • Southernsharky - Thursday, January 5, 2012 - link

    I wish they would consider having some kind of hardware box that snaps into your tv, rather than hardware built into the tv. I know that NVDIA filed a patent for something similar, with the USB computer concept.

    A TV should last 12-13 years (or longer.... I've had them last over 20 years). But if you have a TV with hardware built in, the hardware will be out of date in one year and virtually useless in 6.

    So what is the point of this:???

    Google should be smarter than this.
  • JackF - Thursday, January 5, 2012 - link

    sounds to me like the point is obvious.

    "TV should last 12-13 years (or longer.... I've had them last over 20 years). But if you have a TV with hardware built in, the hardware will be out of date in one year and virtually useless in 6."

    Manufacturer's make and sell more that way.
  • jjj - Thursday, January 5, 2012 - link

    You'll have all kinds of devices so that's not a problem.
    And not that it matters but the LCD replacement cycle is 6 years not 2x that, for CRT it was 9.
  • Hubb1e - Thursday, January 5, 2012 - link

    You mean a box that snaps into your HDMI port like this?

    It doesn't need to be some proprietary standard. A normal set top box already plugs into your TV and all you need to provide is power. This stick just takes it one step further and eliminates the power brick. But, IMO they are still "some sort of hardware box that snaps (plugs) into your TV"
  • ganeshts - Thursday, January 5, 2012 - link

    Sounds nice in concept, but that is still Roku trying to take forward its limited model of doing one thing and doing that well. Where is the local media support? I just wish Roku would evolve to support all the needs of the users, rather than just concentrating on the premium OTT aspect.
  • Hubb1e - Thursday, January 5, 2012 - link

    I'm not sure I agree with your take on where Google TV needs to go. Or maybe I am just not understanding your point.

    Google TV should be approached the same way they took over the phone market. Andriod is a universal mobile OS first and foremost and then phone manufacturers customize it from there.

    Google TV should be a set top box OS first. It should handle the basic IO, the filesystem, the basic UI, search, a browser, a jukebox, and a marketplace. They should make it available to all set top box makers who want to stop supporting all the different versions of Apps out there, and settle on one basic standard for all Apps on GoogleTV. BD players, media players, TVs could then take these basic building blocks and build a BD player or a TV based around the GoogleTV OS. App developers could design their App for GoogleTV and not have to support a multitude of other proprietary OS's.

    They need to get the basics down. An easy 10ft UI, input options like remote controls and joysticks, search and navigation, and codec support. Then Sony can run with it and build a very nice BD player with access to the entire suite of Apps in the marketplace, from Netflix to Vudu and Angry Birds, etc. They need to launch the basics of this first, a UI and a marketplace for Apps, and then focus later on the integrated search they tried for with the first version of GoogleTV.

    The other thing they need is a killer App and that for me is DVR functionality. DVR plus GoogleTV would give me access to all my cable shows plus all the streaming plus all my local content. That's the ultimate box that doesn't exist yet. That's why I think Google bought SageTV. One, for their media player firmware expertise, and two for their DVR knowledge. GoogleTV could easily launch a server/client DVR system based on SageTV's backend. Customers would buy a single DVR box with CableCard or Analog recording capabilities and a hard drive. Then, their BD players or TVs in each room could be the clients for that single DVR. This is what I think GoogleTV should and could become. Google has been very active in the Cable Card debate, and with the purchase of SageTV this is where I think GoogleTV is headed.
  • ganeshts - Thursday, January 5, 2012 - link

    The problem with comparing Google TV (STB OS) to vanilla Android (smartphone OS) is the fact that the Android OS is complete by itself. Anyone purchasing an Android phone has a very usable device without adding HTC Sense or Samsung TouchWiz to it. If Google TV's base OS gives consumers a good out of the box experience, I am perfectly fine with that.

    Now, what is a good out of the box experience? That is what I have tried to cover in the second part. I need support for all premium OTT services as well as full local media compatibility. There is no single device out there which can do this right now (The Boxee Box, and to a lesser extent, the WDTV Live SMP come close). Once this out of the box experience is achieved, Google TV devices can opt to add any extra functionality they want (like support for AACS and Blu-ray drives / interface with DVR and STB etc. etc.)

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