[CES 2011] Freescale has announced their i.MX 6 Series of application processor (or system on a chip, or “SoC”) with chips containing from one to four main processing Cortex A9 cores running at 1.2GHz each. The i.MX series has been designed to power anything from smartphones to tablet, automotive applications or even small computers.
For computer/handset makers, the new design is interesting any many ways: it lets them create a variety of devices at different power/price points, while running on a unified software (including drivers) platform. This means cheaper development cost, better quality control and faster time to market. FreeScale positions the i.MX family as a very low power, yet very powerful multimedia processor that should be able to handle everything from 3D games to stereo 3D output within a small power budget.
Performance-wise, the chip could, in theory, do very well in applications that lend themselves to be executed across several cores. That’s mainly a software challenge that FreeScale’s partners, including Google and Adobe will have to take on. However, don’t forget that a SoC is much more than a bunch of processors, it’s a complete system that also includes co-processors like HD video encode/decode, 2D image acceleration (photo), 2D block copy (user interface), DSP (audio…) etc etc… the final value of the product is determined by how much the software can exploit the hardware, and what applications you will be running.
The i.MX Series will “sample” (arrive in small quantities for testing and development) “later this year” (we’ll guess late in the Spring), and be in volume production at the end of the year.