updated 11:25 pm EST, Sun February 10, 2008
Samsung S3C6410 ARM Chip
Samsung's semiconductor branch tonight helped launch Barcelona's Mobile World Congress with a new mobile platform destined for smartphones and other high-end handhelds. The S3C6410 merges both a 667MHz ARM processor as well as a hardware Multi Format Codec decoder/encoder block that offloads much of the work that would normally be given to the main CPU. In addition to driving playback of video formats such as H.264, MPEG-4, and VC-1, it can also record standard-definition (640x480) video at full speed -- including while playing back video at the same time, Samsung says. The feature explicitly opens the door to two-way video calling at TV resolutions while simultaneously improving battery life versus older processors.
In addition to videos, the hybrid ARM chip improves 3D graphics, scaling, and other visual tasks that would otherwise slow down the system. It also sports dual RAM ports that give enough memory bandwidth to handle high mobile resolutions without bogging down the whole device, according to the company. Samsung notes that the S3C6410 supports "all major high level operating systems" in the mobile space and expects to sample test chips in May, with mass production underway during the summer.
While no customers have yet been named for the processor, the Samsung introduction may prove crucial for Apple. The California firm is known to use a similar Samsung ARM processor in the iPhone and iPod touch based on earlier technology, and is believed to still be dependent on the ARM architecture as the backbone of the devices until at least the successor to Intel's Silverthorne ultra-mobile processor is available for use in phone-sized devices in 2009. [photo via iFixit]