updated 12:40 pm EDT, Thu September 23, 2010
Marvell Armada 628 has 3 cores, 1.5GHz clock
As rumored, Marvell today officially unveiled a fresh three-core ARM processor that could provide very high performance to smartphones and tablets. The Armada 628 runs at 1.5GHz but has a unique asymmetric design for both longevity and speed. While two cores handle most work, a third core is tuned to low power and manages both routine tasks as well as the performance of the other two chips, giving it the power profile of a phone but much more performance.
The performance is high enough that Marvell expects a device running a 628 to support two 1080p videos at once; it could be the first to play back 3D, HD video on a phone. An integrated graphics core is also billed as very fast, and with quad programmable shaders (effects units) can draw up to 200 million triangles per second and get much closer to modern gaming. In regular situations, a device could last for as much as 10 hours of 2D 1080p video or about 140 hours of music.
USB 3.0 support is also new and would allow for very fast peripherals. HDMI and dual displays come along with the design.
The new Armada chip is said to be sampling now. Marvell hasn't named customers but, notably, mentions that the 628 supports the BlackBerry along with the expected Android and Windows Mobile, suggesting it might be used in a future RIM device. Full production isn't likely until early 2011 and may see the processor miss out on the BlackBerry-related tablet possibly arriving next week.