updated 07:55 am EDT, Tue September 22, 2009
Samsung 1GHZ ARM Cortex-A8
Samsung this morning unveiled a pair of components that could give smartphones 1080p video playback and capture. The S5PC110 (not pictured) is based on ARM's faster Cortex-A8 architecture but can run at 1GHz even in the tight space of a smartphone; the feat is achieved through a 45 nanometer manufacturing process that keeps it relatively cool and power-efficient. Running it past even the 833MHz of earlier chips lets it decode and record 1080p video at a full 30 frames per second, including with HDMI 1.3 output of the image at full resolution.
The part also has a built-in USB interface, the option of stacking mobile RAM directly on top of the processor, and an integrated 3D-capable graphics core for those devices that can't afford separate video hardware. This and a less densely-packed but similarly specified chip for netbooks, the S5PV210, are due to be released as samples for companies in December, with mass production following sometime in 2010.
A companion camera chip known as the S5K4EA combines a 5-megapixel sensor with a system-on-a-chip to process its images. Besides its full still resolution, the pairing can capture 1080p video at 30 frames per second and is reportedly engineered to take in a large amount of light despite the small size of the capturing pixels. It can properly autofocus and supports both a mechanical shutter and Xenon flashes. Samples are available for companies today, though mass production doesn't start until early 2010.
The combination of the two Samsung chips points to the likely feature sets for higher-end smartphones next year, though whether high-profile devices like the iPhone will use either are unclear. Apple currently uses a earlier Samsung Cortex-A8 processor downclocked from 833MHz to 600MHz and could use the more efficient design to increase performance, but the company has repeatedly signaled that it eventually plans to use custom-designed ARM processors from its recent acquisition PA Semi. Its camera sensor in the iPhone 3GS is currently supplied by OmniVision.