Fabless chip company Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (Santa Clara, Calif.) previously known for its networking, hard disk drive and micro-server processors is also eager to address the smartphone market and has announced a single chip that combines 64-bit processing with an LTE baseband.
The Armada Mobile PXA1928 includes a 1.5GHz quad-core Cortex-A53, a five-mode LTE modem that supports LTE TDD/FDD, HSPA+, TD-HSPA+ and EDGE. The alphabet soup says essentially that you can build a phone around the chip that will work anywhere. It also supports multi-radio and VoLTE voice solutions for LTE networks and features the GC5000 graphics processor licensed from Vivante Corp. (Sunnyvale, Calif.).
Marvell did not indicate what process node the PXA1928 is designed to be implemented, in or where the chips would be manufactured.
Despite aiming high with a 64-bit core licensed from ARM, Marvell finds itself in the middle of an arms race in application processors. Apple has a proprietary 64-bit processor, the ARMv8-compliant A7, which first appeared in the iPhone 5S in September 2013.
And Marvell's specification is not dissimilar to that of the Snapdragon 410 launched by Qualcomm in December 2013. That was Qualcomm's first 64-bit application processor. The quad-core Cortex-A53 device integrates the LTE modem and is aimed at what Qualcomm calls "high-volume" smartphones. However Qualcomm trumped that with its Snapdragon 615 chip for mobile devices, which has eight Cortex-A53 cores, integrated LTE and 4K video rendering capabilities. Qualcomm also launched the Snapdragon 610, a quad-core variant. These are expected to appear in high-end smartphones in fourth quarter of 2014.
So Marvell will find plenty of competition, making the importance of selling a complete smartphone platform all the more important.
The PXA1928 is complemented by a mixed-signal chip, the Avastar 88W8887 that provides wireless connectivity, such as 802.11ac wireless LAN, Bluetooth 4.0, FM radio, near-field communications. A third chip, the 88L2000 provides global navigation satellite system (GNSS) hybrid location processor, multi-mode multi-band LTE RF transceiver, an integrated power management and audio codec and solid-state disk control.
"4G LTE is such a critical technology for the ‘Smart Life and Smart Lifestyle’ vision. I believe that through continued innovation, invention and dedication our talented global engineering teams have yet again raised the technology bar in advancing the mobile industry," said Weili Dai, president and co-founder of Marvell, in a statement.
The PXA1928 is expected to be available in sample quantities in March 2014. Marvell did not say when they expected to be able to ship in volume or when the first phones based on the platform would appear.
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