TI unveils bleeding-edge OMAP4440 dual core 1.5 GHz ARM Cortex A9 processor

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TI (Texas Instruments) has just announced their latest creation, the OMAP4440. Expected to start sampling during the first quarter of 2011, and begin mass production during the second half of the same year, the OMAP4440 has enough differences compared to the older OMAP4430, due to be in products shipping during the first half of 2011, that we need to wipe the drool off our faces. First off is the application processor: two ARM Cortex A9 processors clocked at an astounding 1.5 GHz. That’s a 50% improvement in clock speed compared to the OMAP4430. Then there’s the GPU, again it’s the same PowerVR SGX 540 as found in the OMAP4430, but clocked 25% higher. Features that are exclusive to the OMAP4440 include: HDMI 1.4 out, meaning it has support for 1080p content that’s 3D, and support for dual 12 megapixel cameras as to enable 3D photo capture, but nothing was mentioned about video. Both the OMAP4440 and OMAP4430 are made using a 45 nanometer process and they’re pin compatible so a handset or tablet maker could simply swap chips if they wanted to.

What worries me about this chip is the PowerVR SGX 540. Did you know that it’s the same GPU inside Samsung’s Galaxy S, Galaxy Tab, and Apple’s A4 chip that goes both inside the iPad and iPhone? Why would TI purposefully stick an “old” GPU in there? It’s still fast, no one is saying it’s slow, but Qualcomm is due to ship Snapdragon processors next year that feature their Adreno 220 which they’re claiming to be as powerful as the graphics processors inside the Playstation 3 and XBOX 360. Of course we’ll have to perform our own benchmarks before we call those claims unsustainable, but that is quite an accomplishment if they manage to achieve such a goal.

If you need any reason to convince yourself to not buy the Samsung Nexus S, dual core chips should be enough to keep your wallet shut.

  • Bcarlson

    Good article Stefan. I wanted comment on a couple points you made in the graphics area. I believe TI implementation of SGX540 is competitive – you can’t just assume the same performance of the same GPU core between processors – there are a lot of other variables to consider such as cacheing, memory interface implementation and performance and GPU clock speed. The OMAP44xx architecture has dual memory channels and an innovative memory tiling (not talking about the GPU tiling) mechanism that are different from other implementations to increase performance. A key issue also for OMAP4440 is to allow customers to quickly migrate with enhanced performance and features from OMAP4430 in the 2H of 2011, so performance improvement was achieved without impact to software. I believe that the A4 actually uses the SGX535 core, not the SGX540. The SGX540 has twice the pipelines and is higher performance, and it has been shown that OMAP4430 outperforms A4 performance already and OMAP4440 builds upon that lead. One last point… Your reference to the Adreno 220 and PS3/Xbox360 performance is not correct. Qualcomm makes this reference to the next generation Adreno 300 core that won’t appear until 2012. Thanks again for your article – we look forward to keeping in touch with you about OMAP-related advancements to come.

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