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Marvell raises the bar for ARM based processors

by Scott Bicheno on 20 October 2009, 13:28

Tags: ARM, Marvell (NASDAQ:MRVL)

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Insert ARM pun here

Marvell, which positions itself as a world leader in storage communications, has launched its latest generation of ARM based processors that claim to offer "PC-class performance".

The ARMADA family joins the likes of Qualcomm's Snapdragon, NVIDIA's Tegra and Texas Instruments' OMAP chips in attempting to cross the divide between embedded ARM based processors of the kind that are ubiquitous in mobile phones and the PC market, currently divided between Intel and AMD.

The new chips are, perhaps predictably, being hailed as "game-changing" by Marvell and, on the crude measurement of clock speed, certainly catch the eye with a top frequency of 1.2 GHz. Additionally, Marvell is claiming over 50 design wins for ARMADA already.

Marvell apparently ships one billion chips per year, two-thirds of which run the ARM instruction set, making it the largest producer of ARM chips in the world. Marvell's ARM based processor operations are the product of an acquisition from, of all companies, Intel. Marvell purchased Intel's XScale division, which specialized in developing processors around the ARM instruction set (as opposed to x86) back in 2006.

"The ARMADA family delivers to mobile devices what skeptics once doubted could be done: fast, PC-caliber processing, full Internet experience, rich media including HD quality video and 3D graphics - all in lightweight form factors with long battery life," said Weili Dai, Marvell's co-founder and VP/GM of its consumer and computing Business Unit.

And Dai wasn't pulling her punches regarding the growing conflict between ARM and x86 based processors either. "There will always be a place for PCs, but the future of mobile computing - for smartbooks, e-readers, smart tablets and more - will by necessity get its DNA from smartphones, not PCs," she said.