Next year is looking to be a very important year for smartphone and tablet performance. Just as we saw widespread migration to the ARM Cortex A8 and Qualcomm Scorpion CPU cores in smartphones in 2010, in the next 12 months we will see the first tablets and smartphones based on dual-core SoCs from TI, Qualcomm and NVIDIA. The long awaited Tegra 2 will start shipping in smartphones and tablets in early 2011, and Qualcomm will have its own 45nm dual-core Snapdragon SoCs featured in devices as well. Today TI is announcing more details on its OMAP 4440, a high performance dual-core Cortex A9 SoC slated for production in the second half of 2011.

The OMAP 4430 is a 45nm SoC expected to replace the current 3630 and 3430 used in high end smartphones today. The 3630 will move further downstream and exist within more mainstream smartphones.

The 4430 features a pair of ARM Cortex A9s running at 1GHz with a PowerVR SGX 540 GPU from Imagination Technologies. The Cortex A9 features a shorter pipeline than the current A8 and Scorpion cores and thus should boast a higher IPC. It also enables some amount of out-of-order execution.

The A9 cores share a 1MB L2 cache and are paired with two 32-bit LPDDR2 memory controllers. The memory bus can support LPDDR2 devices at data rates up to 400MHz. This gives the OMAP 4430 the potential to offer 4x the memory bandwidth of the 3630, which means better CPU and GPU performance as well as more flexibility with video.

The architectural improvements should result in significant performance gains in everything from OS interaction to web browsing. We’ve already seen real world improvements as high as 50% vs. existing A8/Snapdragon platforms.

The PowerVR SGX 540 GPU is used in Samsung’s Hummingbird SoC, which we’ve seen in the Galaxy S line of smartphones. This is already the fastest ultra mobile GPU we’ve tested, so its well suited for use in the 4430.

Today’s announcement isn’t about the 4430 however, it’s about the 4440. A higher performance OMAP4 variant, the 4440 is still built on a 45nm process, it still features a pair of Cortex A9s and a PowerVR SGX 540 GPU - but it just runs faster.

OMAP 4440 vs. 4430 Feature List - Provided by TI
Feature Benefit
Two ARM Cortex A9 MPCores @ 1.5GHz each 50% increase in overall performance, 33% reduction in webpage load time
End-to-end graphics acceleration enhancement (triangles per second, fill rate and shaders) 25% increase in overall graphics performance
Support for HDMI v1.4 3D modes Full 1080p HD S3D playback to 3D TV
1080p60 video format support 2x higher performance video playback
Support for up to two 12-megapixel cameras in parallel Higher stereoscopic resolution encode enabling stereo photography, which meets the same resolution previously experienced only with 2D photography
IVA 3 multimedia hardware accelerator Industry’s highest quality video playback at low bit rates
Complete pin-to-pin hardware and software compatibility Easy migration from the OMAP4430 processors

The A9s run at 1.5GHz and although TI isn’t announcing the SGX 540’s clock speed, it promises a 25% increase in overall graphics performance (triangle rate, fill rate). Presumably the GPU is clocked 25% higher than in the 4430 (which could be as high as 400MHz).

There are more video features on the 4440 as well. You get 60 fps 1080p decode support (bitrate limitations aren't completely fleshed out, but TI has some details in a whitepaper- PDF link), and the SoC supports up to two 12-megapixel camera sensors (potentially for use in high resolution stereoscopic 3D photography). HDMI 1.4 and stereoscopic 3D are also supported by the SoC.

OMAP 4440 Mobile Video Teleconferencing Features - Provided by TI
Mobile video teleconferencing component OMAP4440 processor-enabled feature
High-quality mobile video conferencing Improved video quality in low-light conditions; video stabilization
Chat software (i.e., Skype or Google Talk) Video codec support includes H.264, VP7, H.263, SVC, and more
Peer-to-peer (1 local user with one other user) chat functionality 1080p mobile video conferencing
Multi-chat (1 local user with up to 4 other users) functionality 720p resolution with stereo audio support
Cloud access for simultaneous application support (e.g., browsing the web while chatting or document sharing) Optimized symmetric multiprocessing architecture to deliver low latency and high bandwidth support

The OMAP4440 is pin compatible with the OMAP4430 and thus can be dropped into existing OMAP4 designs if need be. The SoC will be sampling in Q1 2011 and be in production in 2H 2011. I’d expect the 4440 to be used in tablets while the 4430 seems more like a smartphone SKU.

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  • FutureMobile - Thursday, December 9, 2010 - link

    Great point on the single LPDDR interface. This is one of the advantages of the OMAP4430 / OMAP4440 which has dual interfaces supporting 6.4GB/s that allow sustained HD multimedia performance without stalling the dual-A9s. Others that don't support have degraded performance - I have seen the data that shows a dramatic dropoff without this approach.
  • vol7ron - Wednesday, December 8, 2010 - link

    "and the SoC supports up to two 12-megapixel camera sensors (potentially for use in high resolution stereoscopic 3D photography)"

    So you think the 2 camera sensors would be for 3D photography vs the front and back cameras that are currently in place for snapshot and video conferencing?

    A 3D camera is an interesting idea though...
  • Exodite - Wednesday, December 8, 2010 - link


    SoC manufacturing have generally been very late in adopting new processes, Qualcomm just made it to 45nm for example.

    Are we now to expect the big names jumping to 28nm along the same time as, for example, next generation AMD graphics cards are expected?

    I'd love to see that but it seems rather far-fetched.

    Not that it's likely to matter for me personally as it seems to be mostly Motorola favoring TI chips and their devices very rarely make it to my end of the globe.
  • metafor - Wednesday, December 8, 2010 - link

    Well, to be fair, it's the time to market for devices from OEM's that's the major delay. 45nm OMAP4's have been available for quite some time, for example, but it takes a while for handset makers to design a product around them and then to get it past both the FCC and the carriers.

    Compare this with AMD selling a reference-designed board with its latest and greatest chip.
  • Exodite - Wednesday, December 8, 2010 - link

    I really, really tried to make a clever reply that commended your point but the spam filter hates me.
  • sleepeeg3 - Wednesday, December 8, 2010 - link

    Time to end the MHz battle - can we finally get on to focusing on battery life?
  • R3MF - Thursday, December 9, 2010 - link

    this is what i suspect, given that the blackberry tablet is due end of Q1, i am hoping for the 4430 in the lead Meego device from nokia too.
  • blueboy_10 - Thursday, December 23, 2010 - link

    To have the ability to download a 1080p stream from your phone, and then if you wish, put that video stream on the TV wireless. This would be the future of phones as we know it. Who knows, we might see it when Android 5 comes around? The whole idea of doing what you wish on a laptop you could do on your smartphone is really exciting. Just be sure to put a line-out on what Apple has on their smartphones for heaven's sakes! Hearing the tinny speakers on a smartphone while listening to music is really annoying to say the least! - BLUEBOY
  • _CommManagerJ - Thursday, May 4, 2017 - link

    Testing 1 2 3 Testing 1 2 3

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