ST-Ericsson announces SoC with PowerVR Series6 graphics

Won’t be ready until the end of this year

ST-ERICSSON MIGHT NOT be a name that many of us are affiliating with high-end SoC’s for mobile devices, but as of lately the company has changed gears and is getting ready to take on the big players such as Qualcomm and TI. The latest announcement from ST-Ericsson includes a wide range of new models, but the most interesting one is the upcoming Nova A9600 SoC which should be sampling towards the end of the year with PowerVR Series6 graphics.

Before the Nova A9600 ST-Ericsson has a range of other products that should offer interesting alternatives to products from Qualcomm and TI, as ST-Ericsson is one of only a handful of companies that offer both ARM SoC’s and UMTS modem solutions. The first one of these models will be the NovaThor U9500 which is currently sampling to device makers and as this is a platform solution, it consists of ST-Ericsson’s Nova A9500 SoC which is a 45nm part which incorporates a dual core Cortex A9 ARM core at speeds up to 1.2GHz, ARM’s Mali 400 graphics core, support for full HD video recording and up to a 20 Megapixel camera sensor with the Thor M5730 21Mbps HSPA+ baseband and modem unit.

We were shown a demo of the Thor M5730 at the Mobile World Congress and this is one of the first two chip 21Mbps HSPA+ modem solutions in the market. It’s one of the fastest and most power efficient solutions of its kind in the market and it supports 64 QAM’s (Qaudrature Amplitude Modulation) which as an end result allows the operators to get an additional 15 percent of bandwidth in their networks if they upgrade from the current 32 QAM infrastructure, something ST-Ericsson told is was a mere matter of upgrading the software in the cabinets connected to the cell towers.

Next up we have the Nova A9540 which is ST-Ericsson’s first 32nm SoC, although beyond the fact that this too is a dual core Cortex A9 implementation – albeit at up to 1.8GHz this time around – the only additional details revealed is that it’ll have up to four times the graphics performance compared to ST-Ericsson’s current U8500 Cortex A8 SoC. The A9450 should sample to customers in the second half of this year.

The Nova A9600 on the other hand not only features next gen PowerVR Series 6 graphics, currently codenamed Rouge and ST-Ericsson is the first company to announce that it’ll be using this new graphics core. The SoC will be based on ARM’s Cortex A15 architecture and ST-Ericsson is claiming clock speeds of up to 2.5GHz. The Rouge GPU is meant to deliver in excess of 210 GFLOPS and 350 million “real” polygons and a visible fill rate of 5 Gigapixels, although ST-Ericsson claims that thanks to the deferred rendering that’s part of the PowerVR technology the actual fill rate should be closer to 13 Gigapixels. Sadly the Nova A9600 won’t start sampling until much later this year.

Two other interesting products coming out of ST-Ericsson are the Thor M7300 and M7400 modems where the M7300 is a multimode HSPA+ modem with support for speeds of up to 84Mbps. The M7400 takes things to the next level by adding 100Mbps LTE support with upload speeds of up to 50Mbps and again we saw a demo of an early solution running with real world download speeds of around 80-85Mbps. The M7400 also supports 2G, 3G, HSPA. HSPA+ and even the Chinese TD-SCDMA standard and offers Voice over LTE as well as fallback to older technologies for voice calls. The M7400 will sample to partners during the second quarter and we’d expect it to find its way into many of the upcoming 4G LTE handsets in the market.S|A

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