ARM returns to PC market
Back in September 2009 ARM announced hard macro versions of the Cortex-A9 multi-core processor, and quickly followed this by confirming that a company had licensed it so they could be first to market with a product based on this new super-fast ARM chip. Fast-forward to September 2010 and it seems that the company in question has developed a new low-power, super-charged ARM powered PC.
Nufront is a Chinese company dedicated to Research and Development in many key areas such as Wireless telecommunication and SoC design. Out of this R&D comes their first system-on-chip, the NuSmart 2816 processor that is based on ARM’s cutting edge CPU technology. Incorporating the first hard macro dual-core Cortex-A9 design, the list of impressive specifications include:
- 2 GHz clock speed
- Up to 10,000 DMIPS performance
- Mali-400 GPU core(s)
- 1080p video decode
- Fast DDR2/DDR3 memory interfaces
- SATA II capability
- Low-power consumption (<2W at 1.6 GHz)
The chip has been designed as a low-cost alternative to an Intel x86 chip found in over 80% of all Personal Computers. A prototype PC has been developed but is not yet ready for mass-market production, which is likely to be during 2011. No demonstration or benchmarks of their new PC is currently available, but it certainly sounds like a very impressive chip.
The processor has been manufactured by TSMC at their 40nm node process unlike most other ARM Application Processors that are 45nm or the older 65nm generation. So are any other companies likely to use this super-chip from china? Well, some months ago, a Motorola executive stated that they would be launching a 2 GHz dual-core ARM smartphone. It seemed very unlikely at the time as no chip manufacturer had announced such a processor. But now, it seems like Motorola could well be planning to consolidate its position as the top selling Android smartphone manufacturer.
The 2816 could usher in a new era of low-cost computing. China is renowned for offering the same product at much lower prices, so this 100% Chinese designed super-chip could well cause a seismic shift in the land of computing.
Not since Acorn Computers stopped trading in the late 90’s has there been a viable ARM PC that could challenge Intel based PCs. We don’t just expect computers based on this chip to match Intel Atoms, we expect them to blow them out of the water. We can’t wait to get our hands on one.