It might be a little overkill for your handheld device, but a new CPU from Marvell looks to bring video game console-like power to smartphones and tablet PCs.
The tri-core Armada 628 processor can almost be thought of as a 2.5-core device, for only two of the CPU’s cores run at their unrestrained, 1.5-GHZ clock speeds. The third core, acting as a kind of low-power CPU manager, only makes it to 624 MHz. Still, it’s a not an uncommon element for a system-on-a-chip design, and it allows the Armada 628 to function in a manner analogous to a hybrid car—playing more than 10 hours of 1080p video, for example, while still dishing out fast processing power.
In addition, the Armada’s 628 on-die graphics processor spits out a whopping 200 million triangles per second (M/T), the standard nomenclature used to compare the raw processing power of a particular GPU. We make the console analogy above for a very specific reason—the Playstation 3, for example, can dish out roughly 250 million triangles per second. Although its CPU, a 3.2 GHz cell microprocessor, nevertheless puts Marvell’s work to shame in terms of raw speeds, the underlying graphical performance of the Armada 628 is still quite formidable.
So how does this CPU compare against competing mobile processors? Nvidia’s Tegra 2 chip, announced earlier this year and debuting in smartphones in the fourth quarter of 2010, has been smoking up the benchmark charts as of late. However, when you compare Tegra 2 to the Armada 628, you’ll note that the former only comes with a dual-core 1.0-GHz Cortex A9 CPU. As well, the chip’s peak GPU speed tops out at around 90 M/T—less than half that of the Armada 628.
And what about Apple’s iPhone? This favorite target for comparison—in this case, the company’s latest iPhone 4 smartphone—sports a single-core Cortex A8 CPU running at 1 GHz coupled with a PowerVR SGX graphics processor. According to Ars Technica, the latter is rumored to dish out around 28 M/T. That’s nearly one-third the graphical capabilities of Tegra 2-based devices, and but a mere drop in the bucket compared to the Armada 628.
But taking all of the various specifications into account, is the Armada 628 processor really intended for use on a smartphone? Ars Technica’s Jon Stokes doesn’t think so: With hooks for USB 3.0 support and high-definition encoding/decoding, the aforementioned super-fast graphical performance, and three A9 cores… that just seems a bit overkill for something intended to fit in the palm of one’s hand. Expect to see the Armada 628 debut on a larger form-factor—a tablet PC, at the very least, if not a full-fledged netbook or laptop.
hmm.. something to look forward. perhaps would be on my wishlist.. article from PCMag.