updated 09:40 am EST, Mon January 5, 2009
Freescale Netbook ARM CPU
Freescale began its year today by introducing a new i.MX chip it hopes will gain a foothold in netbooks. The i.MX515 is based on the same ARM architecture shared by many smartphones and set-top boxes but is tuned for the higher performance of the mini notebooks, with clock speeds ranging between 600MHz and 1GHz. It also touts rare support for DDR2 memory and an integrated OpenGL graphics core capable of both 3D as well as accelerated 2D, such as video in Adobe's Flash Lite.
A new power management chip is equally important and helps control the power of the processory and memory as well as the display and other components.
Freescale is already delivering samples of the chip to companies planning designs and will have a Pegatron-made reference model running Ubuntu Linux at CES. No customers have been named for the part, though support requires an operating system that accepts native ARM code instead of the x86 code used by Intel's Atom and most other netbook processors.
Apple to date has been one of the stronger supporters of ARM as a general computing platform through its iPhone and iPod touch but isn't immediately known to have an interest in Freescale's part; the company plans to develop its own ARM parts through the acquisition of PA Semiconductor but also hasn't said how soon it will make this transition.