Putting it together
Having interviewed him on the phone not long ago, we finally met TI's European OMAP boss at MWC 2010 and he carried on where he left-off by claiming: "The level of architecture optimisation is not matched by our competitors."
While TI licenses CPU cores from ARM and graphics cores from Imagination Technologies, it's the way it integrates them onto the SoC that TI reckons sets it apart. "It's how you put the stuff together that makes the difference," said Mazzoleni (pictured).
While it's probable that TI's competitors would contest those claims, it does highlight a major problem when it comes to qualifying the various competing claims. There are a lot more SoC makers than there are PC CPU makers, with the regular addition of new entrants like Apple and, - so the grapevine tells us - possibly Nokia soon. They all license varying amounts of third party IP but all design much of the microarchitecture themselves.
Furthermore there are so many combinations of OS, platform, handset and front-end that there are a bewildering number of variables that can contribute to the relative performance of a chip.
On of the things TI focuses on is trying to do as much of the work for handset makers as possible, which is why it has created the Blaze mobile development platform - which Mazzoleni is holding in the photo above - to assist with designing handsets around its new OMAP 4 SoC. "When you buy OMAP, you buy the whole platform," said Mazzoleni. This can include a complete PCB and software too if the customer chooses.
We're probably still around a year away from seeing OMAP 4 based devices, but Mazzoleni showed us the slide below to give us an idea of the kind of stuff those handsets will be capable of. They include being able to control the phone without touching it, 3D and camera-based OCR applications.