ARM aims to make TSMC the Fab of choice for their customers

Subject: General Tech | April 16, 2012 - 01:47 PM |
Tagged: arm, TSMC, fab, cortex a15, cortex-a9, 28nm, 40nm

ARM has developed some optimizations for their chips, provided that the customer purchasing them uses TSMC to fabricate them.  ARM has licensed a large variety of fabrication companies to produce their chips but with their familiarity with TSMC's 28nm and 40nm processes they have been able to introduce performance enhancing optimizations specific to TSMC.  It could taste a bit like favouritism but is much more likely to stem from the volume of TSMC's production as well as the maturity of the 40nm process node.  The 28nm node could be a bit of a problem for ARM as we have seen that TSMC is not having an easy time producing enough good dies for their customers; this is why you cannot buy a GTX 680.  As The Inquirer points out, if ARM wants to make sure their customers can get their hands on reasonable volumes of chips, they will want to create optimizations specific to other manufacturers sooner rather than later.

arm-cortex-a15.jpg

"CHIP DESIGNER ARM has released a slew of optimisation packs for Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company's (TSMC) 28nm and 40nm process nodes.

ARM, which licenses designs to many chip designers, including Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, Nvidia and Samsung, has given TSMC a boost by offering processor optimisation packs for the firm's 28nm and 40nm process nodes. ARM claims the optimisation packs for its Cortex-A5, Cortex-A7, Cortex-A9 and Cortex-A15 processor cores help designers make use of TSMC's process node nuances to get the most out of their designs."

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Source: The Inquirer

Raspberry Pi Computers Pass EMC Compliance Testing

Subject: General Tech, Systems | April 8, 2012 - 08:38 PM |
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, pcb, emc test, computer, compliance testing, arm

The highly anticipated Raspberry Pi ARM computer has run into several launch hiccups, the most recent being that the distributors -- RS and Farnell -- refused to sell and ship the devices without the Raspberry Pi passing the proper electromagnetic interference testing. While such certification is not required for Arduino or Beagle Boards, the companies stated that because the Raspberry Pi was (more) likely to be used as a final consumer product (and not a development board) it needed to obtain and pass EMC testing to ensure that it would not interfere with (or be interfered by) other electronic devices.

According to a recent blog post by the charity behind the ARM powered Linux computer, the Raspberry Pi has passed the EMC compliance testing with flying colors -- after a few hiccups with a network hub used to test the Raspberry Pi while it was being hit with an EM field were sorted out.

Raspberry-Pi.jpg

The team has been working out of Panasonic’s facility in South Wales to test the Raspberry Pi. Due to having the lab area for a whole week, they managed to knock out consumer product inference testing for several other countries as well. Mainly, the Raspberry Pi is now compliant with the UK CE requirements, the United States’ FCC, Australia’s CTick, and Canada’s Technical Acceptance Certificate (TAC).

Assuming the paper work is properly filed and RS and Farnell accept the certifications, the Raspberry Pi units should begin winging their way to customers shortly. Are you still waiting on your Raspberry Pi, and if so have you decided what you intend to use it for yet?

If you are interested in the Raspberry Pi, be sure to check out some of our other coverage of the little ARM computer!

Once again, ubiquitous computing spells the end of Wintel

Subject: General Tech | March 29, 2012 - 12:30 PM |
Tagged: arm, Intel, windows, Android, embedded systems

A story at The Register spells out the end of Windows, this time by 2016.  The growth of cellphones with enough processing power to be more than just glorified telephones is going to change the market, of that there can be no doubt.  On the other hand without some serious upgrades to the interface it seems very unlikely that a cellphone will be sitting on a desk with a mouse, keyboard and monitor connected to it.  In fact the very idea that ARM will one day outsell x86 processors is absurd, last year 2.2 billion ARM processors were sold, that number may be higher than all the processors AMD and Intel ever fabbed.  Keep that in mind when someone tells you that ARM may one day outsell CPUs intended for use in Windows machines.  

Android outselling Windows could be a reasonable prediction for the near future, but again it is hard to imagine Android replacing Windows Server or business oriented Linux distros, even if they are running on an ARM processor.  Then again, stranger things have happened.

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"Windows might be on the rise in the world of embedded systems, but if IDC's prognostications are right, then Windows is about to get its kernel handed to it with the rise of Android on what the market researcher dubs "smart connected devices."

By IDC's reckoning, makers of PCs, tablets, and smartphones shipped some 916 million units of machinery in 2012, raking in an astounding $489bn in moolah."

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Source: The Register

Windows 8 To Be Released "Around October"

Subject: General Tech | March 20, 2012 - 02:08 PM |
Tagged: windows on arm, windows 8, microsoft, arm

The Windows 8 Consumer Preview has been out for a few weeks now, and despite the controversy around the new interface it does seem to be coming along nicely as far as development and bug testing is concerned. While the Windows On ARM has received much less attention and Microsoft has publicly released very little about it, we can only assume that the company is working hard on getting it up and running on upcoming ARM tablets.

There have been several reports on release time frames, and the general consensus for the Windows 8 release will be Q4 2012 at the latest. Alternatively, if Bloomberg's sources "with knowledge of the schedule" are to be believed, the public will be getting both Intel and ARM versions of Windows 8 a bit earlier than expected. Specifically, Microsoft has chosen their upcoming operating system to "go on sale around October." Microsoft will also be releasing more specific dates during an event for its hardware partners in April.

WinSetup13.PNG

Apparently, Microsoft has been rather strict with device makers in regards to hardware configurations allowed for launch devices that are to be powered by the Windows on ARM version of Windows 8. Of the ARM launch devices, only three of them will be tablets. Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows business, has stated that both the ARM and Intel/AMD versions of Windows 8 will be released at the same time, and that “I wouldn’t be saying it’s a goal if I didn’t think we could do it.” Microsoft restricting the designs is likely the reason they are able to get WoA out of the door at the same time as the tried and true x86 and x64 versions.

More information on Windows 8 can be found around the site:

Source: Bloomberg

Patriot's new ARM powered HTPC

Subject: Systems | March 15, 2012 - 01:24 PM |
Tagged: htpc, patriot, patriot PBO Alpine, arm

The new Patriot PBO Alpine is an ARM powered, Android 2.2 device which promises to deliver 1080p video and Dolby Surround sound from a box measuring 4.5" x 4.5" x 1".  It sports HDMI and S/PDIF audio out, an ethernet port as well as two USB ports which is a good thing as you will want to use a mouse and keyboard as opposed to the bundled remote which was [H]ard|OCP's least favourite thing about this media streamer.  Apart from that one disappointment, the PBO Alpine walked away with a Gold Award thanks to great video quality and some extras that Patriot tossed in to make this HTPC stand out in the crowd.

H_Alpine.jpg

"On the heels of its Box Office success, Patriot Memory has a brand new HD media player coming to market that is powered by an ARM926 processor and running Android 2.2. Could the PBO Alpine the next edition to your HD home entertainment experience? With a tremendous feature set inside a tiny footprint, we think it is worthy."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

ARM Cortex-MO+ Lowest Power Processor Yet At 9µA/MHz

Subject: Processors | March 14, 2012 - 06:21 AM |
Tagged: RISC, embedded systems, cortex-m0+, cortex-m, arm, 32-bit

ARM has recently announced a new 32 bit processor for embedded systems that sips power and is one of the lowest power designs yet. This new ARM processor is a new entrant to the Cortex M lineup and has been labeled the ARM Cortex-MO+. The chip features a full 32-bit RISC instruction set and is manufactured using the older, and low cost, 90nm process.

Cortex-M.jpg

The magic happens when we look at the power draw, and according to ARM it will sip power at a mere 9µA (9 microamps) per Megahertz (MHz). It can further run any code designed for (existing) Cortex-M series processor including the Cortex-M3 and Cortex-M4. The new Cortex-M0+ is intended to be used in embedded systems and as microcontroller applications controlling larger machinery.

There is no word yet on pricing or availability; however, support has been promised by the Keil Microcontroller Development Kit and third part software such as Code Red, Micruim, and SEGGER. Freescale and NXP Semiconductor further have been named licensees of the technology thus far. In the case of NXP Semiconductor, they plan to replace existing 8 bit microcontrollers with the ARM Cortex-MO+ in devices such as their UPS units, active cabling, and touchscreens. Freescale, on the other hand, plans to develop their own version of the Cortex-MO+ in the form of the Kinetis L series processor. They will further use the low power chip to operate appliances, portable medical systems, and lighting (among others).

Source: Bit-Tech

Nokia To Release Windows 8 ARM Tablets (WOA) Later This Year

Subject: Mobile | March 13, 2012 - 10:35 PM |
Tagged: WOA, windows 8, tablets, nokia, microsoft, arm

Earlier this year we heard talk of several planned Windows On ARM tablets that would run the upcoming Windows 8 operating system, and now more planned tablets have emerged. Asus is planning to release four Windows 8 tablets (two WOA versions), and according to Digitimes, Nokia will be joining the fray with their own WOA tablets.

WinSetup13.PNG

Allegedly, Nokia will launch a 10" ARM tablet powered by Qualcomm's dual core System on a Chip (SoC) processor. The tablet will run the Windows on ARM version of Windows 8, and their sources have expressed that the Nokia tablet will further fuel the mobile tablet market and provide healthy competition for the iPad juggernaut.

Further, according to "sources at upstream component suppliers," Nokia will be outsourcing the manufacturing of their Windows 8 tablet to Compal Electronics. Also, the sources have stated that the first production batch will consist of 200,000 units.

Don't forget to check out our guide on virtualizing Windows 8 to get an idea of how the new interface works. More information on the Windows On ARM front as it develops.

Source: DigiTimes

Raspberry Pi Linux Computers Delayed By Manufacturing Hiccup

Subject: Systems | March 10, 2012 - 10:30 AM |
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, linux, computers, arm

It seems that not all is sweets (pie, of course) and celebration for the folks over at the Raspberry Pi Foundation, as the initial batch of their ARM powered Linux computers have experienced what the charity has dubbed a “hiccup” at the manufacturing stage. It seems that while they specified magnetic jacks in the design materials, the wrong RJ45 network jacks for the boards were soldered on accidentally by the Chinese factory. According to the Raspberry Pi Foundation, the dud jacks in question were the result of the manufacturer using non magnetic jacks instead of RJ45 connectors with integrated magnetic connections. They further stated that they had been aware of the problem for four days prior to the announcement, but needed to “do some further tests to make sure nothing else was affected.”

RJ45 Network Jack_Raspberry Pi Hiccup.jpg

They are currently sourcing the proper network jacks, and are receiving help from their manufacturing and distribution partners RS Components and Premier Farnell. It is not all bad news; however, as it seems they caught the issue quickly enough to maintain the release schedule for the initial batch of Raspberry Pi boards. The issue is a relatively minor one that is easily rectified by desoldering the dud jacks and soldering on the new ones with integrated magnetics. The manufacturing factory is nearly finished with the replacement on the initial batch and they expect the boards to get out to consumers on time. The less than ideal news is that, there may be a slight delay for those waiting on pre-orders of boards outside of the initial batch as they are still trying to source enough networking jacks as mentioned above.

'We are very, very sorry.” they stated in the blog post. In the end, they believe it to be a mere small bump in the road and have promised to keep users updated on the manufacturing status of the eagerly awaited Raspberry Pi computers. More information along with X-rays of the dud networking jacks can be found on their blog.

Source: Raspberry Pi

MWC 12: TI OMAP5 will beat your A9 with its own two cores

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile, Shows and Expos | February 25, 2012 - 07:06 PM |
Tagged: texas instruments, MWC 12, arm, A9, A15

Texas Instruments could not wait until Mobile World Congress to start throwing punches. Despite their recent financial problems resulting in the closure of two fabrication plants TI believes that their product should speak for itself. Texas Instruments recently released a video showing their dual-core OMAP5 processor based on the ARM Cortex-A15 besting a quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 in rendering websites.

Chuck Norris joke.

Even with being at a two core disadvantage the 800 MHz OMAP5 processor was clocked 40 percent slower than the 1.3 GHz Cortex A9. The OMAP5 is said to be able to reach 2.5 GHz if necessary when released commercially.

Certain portions of the video did look a bit fishy however. Firstly, CNet actually loaded quicker on the A9 processor but it idled a bit before advancing to the second page. The A9 could have been stuck loading an object that the OMAP 5 did not have an issue with, but it does seem a bit weird.

About the fishiest part of the video is that the Quad-Core A9, which we assume to be a Tegra 3, is running on Honeycomb where the OMAP5 is running Ice Cream Sandwich.  Ice Cream Sandwich has been much enhanced for performance over Honeycomb.

We have no doubt that the ARM Cortex-A15 will be much improved over the current A9. The issue here is that TI cannot successfully prove that with this demonstration.

Chris Tyler Shows Off Fedora Remix OS For ARM Powered Raspberry Pi Computer

Subject: General Tech | February 22, 2012 - 05:48 PM |
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, linux, fedora remix, Fedora, arm

The Raspberry Pi hardware is coming out at the end of this month, and the folks over at the Raspberry Pi Foundation are gearing up for the release. On their blog, they shared a video by Chis Tyler that I thought was rather interesting. In the accompanying video, he talked about the Raspberry Pi's Fedora Remix linux operating system.

The new Fedora Remix is being produced by Seneca College, and takes the traditional desktop Fedora Linux distribution and adapts it to run on the ARM platform. It will include several open source applications out of the box including a web browser, word processor, and several other tools for managing the OS and working with files.  Mr. Tyler states that the Fedora Remix distro will closely resemble a traditional desktop experience when paired with a keyboard and mouse.

What I found interesting from the video was a statement by Paul Whalen, a software researcher for Fedora on ARM, where he talks about the Fedora licensing requiring applications to be built natively on the hardware that it will be used on. Because of that, they had to go out and construct a build farm of approximately 60 ARM devices including the Guru Plug. They design the software on workstation computers, and then send it to the build farm of ARM powered devices to be built and compiled into a native binary, and then is sent back. I thought that it was strange at first that they had to go about it in such a roundabout way but in the end it should help to have natively built applications performance wise.

In another exciting bit of news, Liz ended the Raspberry Pi blog post with an update on the status of the Linux computer's hardware.

They are still working on manufacturing the Raspberry Pis, and they "hope the Raspberry Pis from the first batch will be out of testing by the end of Thursday (ed: tomorrow at time of writing), and on their way to freight"

The Raspberry Pi is almost upon us! The non profit organization expects the SD card image download for the Fedora Remix distribution to be available in the next few days while the Cambridge Reference File System (Debian Squeeze based OS) image is available to download now.

Source: Raspberry Pi