Korean vendors plot dual-core super phones

The Korean handset giants continue to ramp up their belated assault on the high end of the mobile market, with LG releasing some details of its promised top end handset, which will feature the Nvidia Tegra 2 processor, and Samsung hovering with the GalaxyTab, much fancied as the major challenger to the iPad.
 
However, the big news from Samsung this week comes from its chip arm, though increasingly its handset business is sourcing many of its components from its previously arms-length stable mate. So the new dual-core apps processor, called Orion, and Samsung's new, faster Flash memory chips for phones, are likely to show up first in the Korean leader's devices.
 
Orion, the successor to Hummingbird, may give clues to the next iPhone app processor too, since Apple's A4 was co-developed with (and manufactured by) Samsung and is very similar to Hummingbird. Orion uses two 1GHz ARM Cortex A9 cores and is targeting high-end smartphones, tablets and netbooks.
 
Like all high-end Samsung chips and mobile devices, advanced multimedia is the key. Made using the 45nm low power process, Orion features a 32Kb data cache and 32Kb instruction cache per core, a 1Mb L2 cache to add speed and a memory interface and bus architecture that are optimized for multimedia applications including HD video playback.
 
A graphics processing unit allows Orion to deliver five times the 3D graphics performance of Samsung's earlier chips, claims the firm. Although the supplier of the GPU core IPR is not specified, the company has previously used both ARM's Mali and its main rival, Imagination Technologies' PowerVR.
 
 
According to EETimes, Samsung is accelerating its app processor roadmap, outlined earlier this year - Orion was originally planned as an 800MHz platform. It will be followed by six further iterations - Pegasus, Hercules, Mercury, Venus and Draco, and culminating with the quad-core Aquila. Orion will be available to a few customers, presumably including Samsung Mobile, in the fourth quarter and in mass production in the first half of 2011.
 
LG, meanwhile, is turning to Nvidia to enhance its own efforts in multimedia handsets. It is to push its Optimus Android range up the value chain during the fourth quarter by using the Tegra 2 mobile processor, which will be the first to sport two 1GHz cores.
 
Nvidia will get to market ahead of Samsung Orion and dual-core gigahertz projects from Qualcomm, TI and others. The Tegra 2 also features an ultra-low power Nvidia GeForce GPU and its first 1080p HD mobile video processor.
 
LG said it would introduce “a series of fast, powerful smartphones starting in the fourth quarter of 2010 … with unprecedented power, speed and graphics capability.”
 
This article originally appeared in Rethink Wireless 

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