The SoC

Given our transistor filled nature, one of our major concerns was discovering what System on Chip (SoC) lies at the heart of WP7S. This is especially the case given the strict, uniform hardware requirements stipulated for virtually all hardware manufacturers (it's like an iPhone made by 4 different companies?).

The basic hardware requirements are (as we mentioned earlier) the following:

  • Capacitive Touch
    • 4 or more contact points
  • Sensors
    • A-GPS, Accelerometer, Compass, Light, Proximity
  • Camera
    • 5 megapixels or more, flash required, camera button required
  • Multimedia
    • Common detailed specs, Codec Acceleration
  • Memory
    • 256 MB RAM or more, 8 GB Flash or more
    • No external storage support (no SD cards)
  • GPU
    • DirectX 9 acceleration
  • CPU
    • ARMv7 Cortex/Scorpion or better
  • Screen
    • Two Supported Displays
      • 480 x 800 WVGA : Aspect Ratio 3:5
      • 320 x 480 HVGA : Aspect Ratio 2:3

However, we've dug up some more hardware details that are entirely new. Microsoft told me personally they've definitely already chosen a particular SoC, but aren't ready to state what it is. There's a dialog that takes place between OEMs, Microsoft, and carriers to decide on both the clocks and optimal performance/battery target for the device. My understanding is that this dialog is ongoing, and that the software giant will make a final announcement when it's settled. Although Microsoft has not announced whether it's the case, Qualcomm has already made an announcement of its own that Snapdragon lies at the core. We should know soon, but Tegra or any other choices are looking highly unlikely at this point. Speculate all you want, no amount of pressing would get Microsoft to disclose what they've chosen. We'll just have to be patient.

Hopefully Microsoft has chosen its WP7S SoC with the future in mind - the landscape will likely have changed significantly by Q4 2010, and Snapdragon as we know it today will be old news. Both the single core 8X50A Snapdragon at 1.3 GHz, as well as the 8X72 dual core Snapdragon at 1.5 GHz will likely have made their debut and start arriving in products by Q4 2010. It's entirely possible that one of these is the choices, but we just don't know yet.

The GPU

There's some interesting stuff going on with the GPU on WP7S. Although we don't know anything about the specific silicon, we know a lot about the software implementation that needs to be rounded up thoroughly.

Let's start from the beginning. Remember from the earlier article how WP7S runs code across two separate frameworks - Silverlight, and XNA? Each of these have their own set of hardware accelerated functions that directly leverage the GPU. Furthermore, you cannot mix and match Silverlight and XNA frameworks at present, something Microsoft hopes to eventually reconcile, but not, you guessed it, in this release.

Zune Integration GPU Acceleration
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  • Hrel - Friday, March 26, 2010 - link

    Yeah, pretty sure I'll never buy any portable ANYTHING that doesn't support expandable memory. I don't need more iphones out there, thanks anyway. Reply
  • jconan - Tuesday, March 23, 2010 - link

    Will Microsoft support Unicode in its WP7S phones? They never got around to it on the Zune. I hope they do for WP7S and hopefully in Courier. It's easier to read text the way it's meant to be read than in gibberish ascii with diacritics. Reply
  • MonkeyPaw - Monday, March 22, 2010 - link

    Wow, all this talk about Web-capable smartphones sure makes me wish for a mobile version of Anandtech.com. :| Reply
  • toyotabedzrock - Monday, March 22, 2010 - link

    We have heard this promise of adding features before! Reply
  • RandomUsername3245 - Monday, March 22, 2010 - link

    The article says, "There's also of course the stigmata attached to buying a phone preloaded with a bevy of carrier-branded applications."

    The author should have used "stigma" rather than "stigmata". Stigmata is a Roman Catholic reference: (from dictionary.com) marks resembling the wounds of the crucified body of Christ, said to be supernaturally impressed on the bodies of certain persons, esp. nuns, tertiaries, and monastics.
    Reply
  • CSMR - Monday, March 22, 2010 - link

    Stigmata is just the plural of stigma. "Stigmas" is normally better but stigmaga is correct. So the problem with the sentence is that "is" is singluar and "stigmata" is plural. Reply
  • jhh - Monday, March 22, 2010 - link

    Applications can't currently run in the background, but they can process push notifications. Does this mean that any application that wants to provide background processing needs to wake the phone via push notifications? If so, do those mean that the push notifications need to come through a Microsoft back-end notification server? If so, that would be another case of application lockdown. I can't see Facebook or Twitter wanting to run their traffic through Microsoft just to be able to use the notification service. Reply
  • ncage - Sunday, March 21, 2010 - link

    Is it perfect? Nope but i still think its pretty dang good. Can't wait. I will still probably get a nexus one when it comes out tuesday but will get a wp7 near xmas. Have a BB Tour now and i hate it with a passion. If your not an email addict then i don't think you would ever like a BB. I'd get a palm pre instead if it didn't sound like they were just about to die. RIM should buy them. Reply
  • hessenpepper - Sunday, March 21, 2010 - link

    Will the tight hardware requirements allow Microsoft to release upgrades directly to the end users or will they release in to the manufacturers/carriers? Will we be at their mercy for timely upgrades? Reply
  • MGSsancho - Monday, March 22, 2010 - link

    Part of the reason Microsoft wants tight control over hardware is so they can focus on other stuff and not write 9000 drivers. Windows CE works on ppc, x86, arm with varying amounts of ram and configurations. It is the same strategy Apple has, only have a few select hardware platforms and focus on the user experience. Reply

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