Freescale has reached volume production on a new SoC (system-on-chip) for video-enabled, drive-equipped devices based on Linux and other embedded OSes. Built on 90nm technology, the i.MX27 adds on-chip video acceleration, more storage interfaces, and a 10/100 Ethernet port to Freescale's popular i.MX21 mobile application processor, built on 130nm technology.
Hard drive-equipped portable media players are one obvious target application for the i.MX27. Others include video surveillance equipment, videophones, cordless and mobile phones, point-of-sale devices, industrial instrumentation, and healthcare-related devices, Freescale said.
Like the i.MX21, the i.MX27 is based on an ARM926EJ-S core clocked at 400MHz. The i.MX27 also inherits many of the i.MX21's on-chip peripherals and peripheral interfaces, facilitating software portability from i.MX21-based designs, Freescale said. The parts are not pin-compatible, though.
Freescale i.MX27 and i.MX21 compared
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New in the i.MX27 is an “enhanced multimedia hardware accelerator” (eMMA) said to efficiently process MPEG4, H.263, and H.264 video streams at D1 resolution (DVD-quality, 720×480). Combining processor and video acceleration unit in the same chip conserves power and minimizes footprint, while enabling the i.MX27 to serve as “the next step toward true high definition video in handhelds,” Freescale said.
Compared to the i.MX21, the i.MX27 also adds an ATA (hard drive) interface, 10/100 Ethernet, a pair of high-speed (480Mbps) USB-OTG host ports, three MMC/SD controllers, and a MemStick Pro interface.
Paul Marino, GM of multimedia app processors at Freescale, stated, “Based on customer feedback, this 32-bit processor appeals to a wide range of market segments. We are delivering a very competitively-priced [chip].”
The i.MX27 is commercially available in volume from Freescale and its distributors, priced at just under $15 in 10,000 quantities, in a 404-pin ball-grid array package measuring 17mm square. A mobile board reference design may be available from India-based board-level IP (intellectual property) vendor iWave, which announced a Linux-based Rainbow G1 design in January.
Additionally, Opera has already announced an i.MX27 browser offering.
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