Telling it like it is on the inside of production semiconductors as seen at Chipworks

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

TI Debuts 28-nm OMAP 5 Processor at CES

This year, for the first time I made it to the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. To say it is an endurance test is putting it mildly - close to 150,000 attendees predicted and ~5,000 media/analysts, so we (there's two of us from Chipworks) spend more time standing in line than actually seeing the show.

Be that as it may, Tuesday morning we went to one of TI's suites at the show, and lo and behold, a working OMAP5430! Announced last year, this is something we've been anticipating at Chipworks for a while. The silicon came out of the fab two or three weeks ago and is going through phase one testing, but so far it's "live, stable and 100% functional". Testing has gone well enough that samples are already in customer hands.

There was a mobile demonstration unit showing graphics processing at 64 fps (using Android's Ice Cream Sandwich), which compares with 47 fps for the OMAP4470. Other exercising is obviously being performed, but the space was pretty crowded so we didn't get a chance to get an exhaustive display.

There was a palpable feeling of achievement in the room, and the folks showing us around were like new parents - great to feel that buzz! Given that Huawei just announced a phone with the OMAP4460 in it, things are going well for TI.

It's too early to have a great deal of detail (so no pictures!), but essentially the part is meeting the published specs, and on track to be a 2GHz processor.

Fabbed in UMC's 28LP process, it utilizes two ARM Cortex A15 cores, and two low-power Cortex-M4 processors (taking the "big-little" approach discussed at the ARM Techcon last year). It has 2 MB cache, and the graphics side is covered by dual POWERVR™ SGX544-MPx graphics accelerators.

Initially it will be shipped in a 14 mm x 14 mm PoP with 980 balls on 0.4mm pitch, and the stock photo below looks remarkably like the Amkor Thru-Mold Via technology that we first saw with the OMAP4430 in the RIM Playbook.
TI Stock Image of OMAP 5 Platform
Given that first silicon is only just out, it's unlikely that we'll see the 5430 in a downstream phone or tablet for a year or so, but who knows, if things pan out well, some OEM may want to accelerate that and we'll get it earlier.  I hope so!

Thanks to Brian Carlson, Mike Blaskovich, and Heather Ailara for hosting us and letting us be among the first to see this hot new device.

We have been posting blogs from CES, mostly commentaries on the press sessions so far, at our Chipworks blog, and follow my occasional tweets at @chipworksdick.

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