On this Easter Monday Intel has launched its Bulverde, the next generation of its XScale processors family, as the PXA270. According to Intel they will ship Bulverde's graphics accelerator companion chip (formerly codenamed Marathon) dubbed 2700G in volume during this quarter.
Bulverde will ship at a clock frequency of 312MHz but it will scale up to 624MHz. Currently there is already a PXA255 chip available at 400MHz. But the PXA270 offers better performance trough its improved architecture Intel said.
The PXA270 also offers improved power management thanks to the use of Pentium M-style SpeedStep technology which dynamically drops the core's voltage and clock frecequeny according to demand.
That means Wireless MMX, the XScale version of the Pentium family's integer maths-oriented, multimedia-friendly instructions. Wireless MMX, the company claims, allows said 312MHz part to offer the performance of a 'regular' ARM-based chip running at 520MHz, such as the PXA255. Intel's benchmarks say a 416MHz Bulverde is equivalent to a 624MHz part that lacks Wireless MMX, and the 624MHz version is equivalent to a 775MHz ARM chip.
Comparing the PXA270 to Intel's existing PXA262 mobile phone chip, yields a longer battery life in the order of 42 per cent for MP3 playback, 77 per cent from QVGA video playback, 63 per cent for QVGA video encoding - at a higher frame rate, 24fps as opposed to 17fps, too - and 30 per cent for video conferencing, given the same power source, Intel claims.
Bulverde's announcement last September mentioned the chip's video and camera system, which supports 640 x 480 image capture at 15fps (30pfs at QVGA), and can cope with four-megapixel sensors directly linked to the chip - which makes for cheaper handsets, Intel claims, by shortening manufacturers' component lists.
Chip features discussed today for the first time include Intel's handheld security system, the Wireless Trusted Platform, which essentially leverages Wireless MMX to provide hardware acceleration for encryption and decryption, improving applications like DRM, SSL, VPN and, in phones, IMEI, for example. It also incorporates a secure, signature-backed boot ROM.
Intel also touted the PXA270's new 1.8V peer-to-peer system bus, Mobile Scalable Link (MSL), which provides up to 416Mbps of bandwidth across two one-way independent links one, two or four bits wide.
The bandwidth is pitched at performance-heavy multimedia roles, which is also where the 2700G comes in. It offers 30fps MPEG 4 and Windows Media playback at 640 x 480 and MPEG 2 at the same framerate at 720 x 480. Graphical output can run to SXGA resolutions, and Intel quoted a 2D fill rate of 150m pixels per second and 944,000 polys per second for 3D.
The 2700G also contains its own SDRAM bank stacked on top of the processor packaging for graphics RAM - 16MB of it, we understand.
The price of the 312MHz PXA270 is $32 in 10,000 unit quantities. It is sampling now and volume production will follow later this quarter. The 2700G is available in volume now but the price is nog known yet.