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Archive for the ‘System On Chip (SOC)’ Category

Intel in the Living Room

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Intel has been attempting to enter the living year for over a decade now – and finally it is beginning to happen.  Their dream has been for an Intel-powered CE device to be the center of the living room. They tried with the StrongARM line of processors right after their acquisition from DEC (late 1997). The StrongARM business was sold to Marvell in 2006. Intel, then followed by launching Viiv, to create an Entertainment PC for the living room. Sadly that effort also went nowhere …

Things are beginning to change. Intel is finally entering the living room – I can say this is true for my home and any of the households who have bought any of the following: the Boxee box, Logitech Revue, Sony GoogleTV products. All three of these are powered by the Intel 4100CE chip – code named Sodaville. The Sodaville chip has an Intel Atom processor.

The thrust is not only on the consumer front but also via service providers such as Comcast. There have been reports of Comcast running trials with a Set Top Box (STB) being powered by the CE4100 (you can read a review of the SOC by Anandtech).

The one thing that history does tell us in this case – Intel will not give up!



Written by Ashu Joshi

December 29, 2010 at 7:03 pm

Posted in General, Internet TV, System On Chip (SOC)

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Nvidia Under Pressure?

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Two annoucements, back to back, make me wonder if Nvidia is under pressure to perform:

#1. Intel annoucement at their developer conference, IDF, on their new hybrid graphics solution code named “Sandy Bridge” which you can reach about here.

#2. And the fact that Boxee dropped Nvidia Tegra chip for their box and switched to the Intel Atom-based 4100 chip.

In itself both news are not critical but I wonder if it is a trend that Nvidia has a challenge in doing anything besides GPUs, and even the GPU market is being constantly attacked.

[Note: For the record I hold more shares of NVDA then INTC, and no I am not shorting them]

Written by Ashu Joshi

September 14, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Intel & WindRiver: A Different Reason on Why It Makes Absolute Sense!

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Intel is going to acquire Wind River – it is all over the news & blogosphere. Some articles make the claim, such as this one in WSJ , that this acquisition will be a threat to Microsoft. The article also claims the acquisition will lead to a new source of revenue – selling software! Even if that is true, it is too far out to have a significant shareholder value – let’s not forget the real cash cow is in selling Processors and all other silicon they make!

I think it finally gives Intel the software expertise and hence control to add value to its processors & chips, and to out-rival the competition.

Here is why:

There is a growing need to have low-level software (a.k.a. firmware), the right Operating System (OS) support and the software tools for the specialized processors (System on Chip – SOC) Intel i s building for the new markets it is entering – one such example is Intel CE 3100 (code-name Canmore) designed for video devices such as Set Top Boxes (STB) and TVs. Intel’s thrust is evident in articles, a sampling of which you can read here, here, here,  and here.

And in this market for specialized processors, Intel is competing head on with the likes of Broadcom, Marvell, and Qualcomm. This market is sensitive to pricing plus needs bundling of the low-level firmware.  The inability to provide the enabling software would lead to the Intel chips being not used in favor of the competition. Without Wind River – Intel has to more or less rely on partners to support expanding range of software that needs to run on the specialized processors such as Adobe FlashLite, Google Android, Windows Mobile and may be in future the the new Palm WebOS being launched with Palm Pre.

Let me state the obvious – the real money is in creating and selling a device that adds value the higher end of the software stack – the Applications & Services a consumer would use.  And let’s not forget in the era of Web 2.0 time to market and service velocity is a must! So if I am a CE company and I want to design a product, I want a Processor that allows me to get to adding value quickly instead of spending time on doing the nitty-gritty embedded stuff.

Having Wind River in its portfolio enables Intel to out-compete and provide the complete solution to build CE devices…

Written by Ashu Joshi

June 6, 2009 at 4:53 pm

Why BeagleBoard?

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While my day job is @ Cisco’s SPVTG BU is Business Development and/or Product Strategy, I am certainly a geek @ heart. And hence the nature of these posts and the gadgets that I play around with…

I am going to hack with the BeagleBoard which is based on the TI OMAP 3530 (powered by the ARM Cortex-A8 Core) because of the following:

  1. Android has started with OMAP/ARM Cores, you can get all the source and it is based on the Linux 2.6.2x Kernel for OMAP
  2. The ARM Core also powers the Apple 3G iPhone – it is supposed to be a Samsung chip, you can find the info here.
  3. As noted in #1 above, the first Android Phone – the T-Mobile G1 (by HTC) is also powered using OMAP/ARM core.
  4. The Amazon Kindle 2 is also powered by an ARM-11 Core, look here for details.

You see the common theme, it has been a long, long time since I hacked/coded on the ARM core but I am sure this will all come back to me….

(BTW need to look at investing in ARM Holdings, the company that licenses the ARM Cores …)

Written by Ashu Joshi

March 30, 2009 at 2:13 pm

The Beagle Board has Arrived…

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A post on GigaOm led me to get the BeagleBoard by TI.

It has arrived last week! Unfortunately I have not ordered any of the accessories, and as I dug through my tech pile I was unable to find a Micro USB cable that is required. So I wait patiently for a bunch of Beagleboard accessories that I have ordered from here.

I must say the packaging that came with the board was really cool!


Written by Ashu Joshi

March 24, 2009 at 8:21 pm