TI's OMAP 4430

You have to hand it to NVIDIA, up until the launch of the iPad 2 if you were talking about a dual-core tablet or smartphone you were likely talking about something running the Tegra 2. Both Qualcomm and TI are late to the dual-core SoC game, but with the PlayBook we have the first shipping device based on TI's Tegra 2 competitor: the OMAP 4430.

At a high level the 4430 looks a lot like the Tegra 2, but dig a little deeper and you'll see that the SoC should be faster overall.

Like the Tegra 2, TI's OMAP 4430 has a pair of ARM Cortex A9s running at up to 1GHz with a shared 1MB L2 cache. Unlike the Tegra 2 however, TI implemented ARM's Media Processing Engine which gives it both a pipelined FPU as well as support for ARM's NEON SIMD instruction set (think SSE but for ARM SoCs). It won't be until Kal-El before NVIDIA brings NEON support to its SoCs.

On the GPU side TI uses a PowerVR SGX 540 by Imagination Technologies. The SGX 540 has four USSE pipes (SIMDs) each capable of up to two MADs per clock.

Mobile SoC GPU Comparison
  PowerVR SGX 530 PowerVR SGX 535 PowerVR SGX 540 PowerVR SGX 543 PowerVR SGX 543MP2 GeForce ULP Kal-El GeForce
# of SIMDs 2 2 4 4 8 8 12
MADs per SIMD 2 2 2 4 4 1 ?
Total MADs 4 4 8 16 32 8 ?

At the same clock speed, the SGX 540 has the same theoretical compute potential as the GeForce in NVIDIA's Tegra 2. The SGX 540 is a tile based renderer and thus tends to have an appreciable memory bandwidth advantage in current smartphone/tablet gaming workloads.

TI's memory interface is often touted as a significant performance advantage for the OMAP 4430. While NVIDIA has a single 32-bit LP-DDR2 interface, the OMAP 4 embraces a dual-channel (2 x 32-bit) LP-DDR2 interface giving it twice the theoretical bandwidth of what you'd get on a Tegra 2. NVIDIA argues that its bandwidth efficiency is high enough on the Tegra 2 that you don't need two channels, but it's honestly difficult to really validate claims like that.

The other major piece of the OMAP 4430 is its video engine, something TI calls the IVA 3 multimedia accelerator. This hardware encode/decode engine is what makes full 1080p30 playback and recording possible on the PlayBook. As you'll see in our video tests, the PlayBook is the first ARM based tablet we've used that can decode a 1080p H.264 High Profile video stream.

Overall the OMAP 4430 has the specs to be performance competitive with anything else out there today, definitely anything Tegra 2 based. Apple's A5 still has a much faster GPU but from a CPU standpoint, the PlayBook should be competitive. Any non-3D performance differences would likely be due to software optimization, not hardware limitations.

QNX: The PlayBook OS A New Home


View All Comments

  • legoman666 - Wednesday, April 13, 2011 - link

    No email client? Really? Is that a joke? Reply
  • Ethaniel - Wednesday, April 13, 2011 - link

    For now it seems, but that's clearly a sample unit. All I keep reading is "needs tuning" and "needs optimization", ergo, it's not ready, and they're going to launch it anyway. Those updates will have to be lightning-fast. I don't want to pay 500 dollars to be a beta tester... Reply
  • SimKill - Wednesday, April 13, 2011 - link

    I'm actually surprised. This is because my cousin in India said that his friend in Dubai already bought it and has it for quite some time. Do you think there might be a reason why they are purposely delaying the American release? Reply
  • melgross - Thursday, April 14, 2011 - link

    Probably, someone is lying about it, or they've gotten some illegally obtained
    Reduction model much as what happened the Apple's iPhone 4.

    It's first being released in N. america, according to RIM.
  • vol7ron - Friday, April 15, 2011 - link

    Why does everyone want to price around Apple? The more I look at these devices, the more I'm likely to get the color-nook and put Droid on it. Surely the hardware would be lacking, but the functionality would still be ballpark.

    16GB for $500 is ridiculous. These base models need to be in the $250-300 range.
  • michael2k - Friday, April 15, 2011 - link

    Um, the raw materials for the iPad is about $260, meaning you can't expect to buy a 16gb tablet from any manufacturer, especially one with less buying power than Apple, for much less than $400 or so.

    From the iPad 2:
    Display is $127
    Flash is about $66 for 32gb, $35 for 16gb
    Case & Battery is about $60
    Mobo+Camera is about $60

    So for any 10" tablet the cost if they gave it away for free would be $282 or so. Your nook "cheaps out" by having a 7" screen, only 8gb storage, a slower CPU, no cameras, and a much smaller battery. It only gets 8 hours with wifi off, the iPad 2 gets 11 hours with wifi on!

    In other words you're only paying $180 worth of HW in the Nook, while the iPad gets you two 1GHz cores vs a 800MHz core, 11h of battery vs less than 8 hours, 10" and 1024x768 vs 7"@1024x600, 16gb vs 8gb, and of course, no guarantee of OS updates. You're complaint is ridiculous, actually, since almost no other manufacturer has been able to beat Apple on price yet except the Acer Iconia.
  • quiksilvr - Friday, April 15, 2011 - link

    As much as I despise Apple, I have to agree to an extent. Yes that price is quite hefty, but if Apple didn't have it's cult following, it would have easily been on sale for $399. But thanks to idiot consumers, they can bump it up a Benjamin. Reply
  • michael2k - Friday, April 15, 2011 - link

    And no one else can order in vast enough quantities to hit the $399 price. Reply
  • mcnabney - Friday, April 15, 2011 - link

    I am starting to doubt the iSupply numbers you quoted.

    They price the very nice 9.7" IPS screen that Apple uses at $129 while the clearly inferior non-IPS screen the XOOM uses at $140. Their memory prices are also highly suspect, clinging to $2/GB for what are still really small drives compared where higher performing SSDs already are. I would guess that NAND prices for tablets are under $1/GB wholesale and in quantity.
  • michael2k - Friday, April 15, 2011 - link

    Apple orders literally 2m 9.7" IPS screens a month, probably 40m this year alone. That gives them bulk purchasing power no one else has except the manufacturer of said screens.

    Motorola has to pay market prices, while Apple can literally buy an entire factory's output. http://www.isuppli.com/Display-Materials-and-Syste...

    It doesn't help that the Japanese earthquake halted LCD production at major plants, either!

    As for SSD chips, Apple is paying a premium to get density. The low end iPad has only a single SSD 16GB chip. The mid range iPad has one or two, and the high end has two 32GB chips. As soon as prices are good or capacity is good, I'm sure Apple will use a single 32gb chip on the low end, two 32gb chips for the middle, and 2 64gb chips on the high end.

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