ST-Ericsson Nova A9600: dual-core ARM A15, PowerVR Series 6

Discussion in 'Mobile Devices and SoCs' started by rektide, Feb 15, 2011.

  1. mczak

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    Do we know it really doesn't support it in hardware? Wouldn't be the first gpu which supports it but it's not enabled in OpenGL due to licensing costs...
    Uncompressing in the driver sucks though, eats up ram and these chips are starved enough for bandwidth that just increasing texture bandwidth usage by a factor of 4/8 isn't really what you want to do (could recompress to etc of course but that's probably not what you want to do neither).
     
  2. Exophase

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    We don't know that it doesn't, but that'd be pretty strange for IP. Wouldn't ARM just include the cost of DXTC licensing as an option for its own licensing?

    Uncompressing obviously wouldn't have good results but it's better than not supporting an OS outright.. transcoding to ETC could possibly be made optional. I have no idea what kind of quality loss you get from that.
     
  3. Heinrich4

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    #43 Heinrich4, Jun 15, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 15, 2011
  4. Ailuros

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    Series5 supports PVRTC, ETC and DXTC for compatibility reasons.

    That's weird since a DXT1 extension is mentioned here: http://www.glbenchmark.com/phonedet...o20&D=Samsung+GT-i9100+Galaxy+S2&testgroup=gl

    ...but then again it's supposed to have as GL Vendor ARM, NVIDIA and PowerVR so it's obviously quite a colourful platform having a bit of everything :lol:
     
  5. tangey

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    I've heard Arun suggest/worry regarding ST-E ability to deliver their A9540 & A9600 according to their roadmap, it appears that ST-E themselves are concerned about this, as can be seen in this article about their new design centre in CA.

    http://www.eetimes.com/electronics-news/4226942/ST-Ericsson-plants-center-in-Silicon-Valley

    "ST Ericsson has taped out a dual-core ARM Cortex A-15 set to ship in 2012. It will outgun rivals including the Omap 5 from Texas Instruments because the STE chip uses the Imagination Rogue graphics core, said Gilles Delfassy, chief executive of ST Ericsson and former head of TI's wireless business unit. Due to use of a new vector-processing architecture, the chip should also have smaller size, cost and power consumption than its rivals, he added"

    "We have a road map which is very aggressive, but the key question is will we deliver on it on time," Delfassy said.

    To that end, Delfassy said he has replaced some engineers in ST Ericsson and brought "on two executives with strength in product execution. One is a senior vice president from the former Infineon wireless group who worked closely with Apple; another is a former Sony Ericsson executive who has supervised groups of more than a thousand engineers."

    Still no info as to what graphics are in the A9540.
     
  6. Lazy8s

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    Can't wait for some OpenCL comparisons of the A15s versus the Rogues.

    Not in a competitive sense; wouldn't be fair of course. Just in a relative sense.
     
  7. ToTTenTranz

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    A9600 to be in future Nokia Windows Phone devices?
    http://www.stericsson.com/press_releases/st-ericsson_nokia.jsp


    Earlier NovaThor SoCs with Mali 400 in a Windows device seems unlikely since they don't have any kind of DirectX compliance, more importantly DXTC support.

    On the other hand.. it does say "extend Windows Phone devices to new price points", which kind of implies it'll allow for cheaper devices using a lower priced SoC (U5500?).


    Unless it's all more than a year away and these new low-cost Nokia Windows devices will actually have an unnanounced mid-end SoC with a low-end Rogue GPU.
     
  8. tangey

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    Does window phone have DirectX as a requirement ?

    Maybe, Maybe Not, ST-ericsson has specifically NOT divulged the graphics in the A9540 chip. All they say is that its x4 current gen. Given that current gen is single core mali, the logical conclusion is that its Mali400MP4, but if so straightforward, why not just say it.

    I also noted an Anandtech table in a recent review of the snapdragon S4 cites that the A9540 has PowerVR series 5, which if true is interesting as STM/ST-Ericsson does not currently have a series 5 licence (or if they do, it has never been made public).

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/4940/qualcomm-new-snapdragon-s4-msm8960-krait-architecture

    I emailed anand and asked for a source for the data, didn't get a reply.
     
  9. Arun

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    Not desktop DirectX, but yes, and it does require DXTC. You could obviously get away with decompressing the textures as ChainFire3D does on Android to allow Tegra games to play on other platforms, but that's obviously a suboptimal solution.

    I specifically asked Louis Tannyeres about that at MWC11 and he responded by saying they have not made any announcements on this subject and quickly switched to another question. This is from the same person who openly told me about the presence of heterogeneous CPUs in the A9600 and confirmed they could scale down the Rogue in A9600 by at least 4x for lower-end derivatives (implying it's at least a quad-core). So he was VERY open about a lot of things but not open at all about such a seemingly trivial detail.

    So I think it's pretty clear it's not a Mali-400. It might either be a custom IP from ARM that adds DXTC to be compliant with WP7 but that's quite a stretch and it seems more likely that they did license Series 5XT for A9540. Or hey, it might be from Vivante - now that would be a funny surprise! I wouldn't hold my breath though since they said they were going for a 2 supplier strategy on GPUs, not 3 suppliers.

    If it is a Series 5XT then it's probably a SGX544 and the A9540 is starting to look at *lot* like OMAP4470 - only it's on 32nm@GF rather than 40nm@UMC. Not a bad position for ST-E to be in and it's understandable that Nokia would pick such a product as a second source.

    I'm not sure how they expect that specific chip to extend WP7 to "new price points and geographies" and that's even less true with A9600. I don't see how it would be cheaper (in terms of full system BOM) than the MSM8255 they're using today or the MSM8930 on Qualcomm's roadmap in a similar timeframe (although it's faster than both of them). It's certainly very competitive though and Nokia needs a second source to get good pricing from Qualcomm so it's a good choice. And it's some badly needed good news for ST-Ericsson who are currently losing $200M per quarter. You read that right - nearly a billion dollars in negative cash flow per year!
     
  10. I.S.T.

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    How long have they been losing that much money?
     
  11. Arun

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    Oh, well they've been losing more than $100M per quarter ever since they merged in February 2009. The rate has accelerated somewhat in the last year though as their legacy products naturally declined more and more and most new products still didn't enter mass production until very recently.

    Believe it or not, I do expect them to survive and hit break-even in either Q1 2013 or Q3 2013. And I think the separate entities would have been making large losses anyway, although Ericsson at least would probably have been better off just reinventing themselves as a slim modem supplier. I think most of their application processor engineers were laid off anyway and the EMP-designed M5730 is one of the few bright spots for ST-E's financials so far...
     
  12. ltcommander.data

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    http://www.anandtech.com/show/5038/stericsson-announces-inclusion-in-future-windows-phones

    Anandtech seems to believe Nokia is targeting the U5500, U8500 and U9500 with dual core Cortex A9 and Mali-400.
     
  13. Arun

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  14. ToTTenTranz

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    U4500, U8500 and U9500 ruled out, then.
    I agree that Microsoft wouldn't be extremely tight with the hardware requirements for windows phone until now, just to open the platform to non-DirectX compliant hardware in the end. Not even for Nokia..


    So the ST-Ericsson SoC wouldn't be the low-cost SoC for low-cost WP Nokia handsets but would rather enable the existance of lower-cost handsets with Qualcomm SoCs because of the introduced competition?

    Are you ruling out the possibility of an unnanounced SoC with a low-end Rogue GPU? You think these Nokia phones with ST-Ericsson SoCs will launch before the availability of the Rogue family?
     
  15. Ailuros

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    I would at least for anything bigger than 28nm. The minimum for any variant of Series6 is DX10 and that's quite an overhead compared to DX9 L3 on something like a SGX544. If the latter is clocked somewhere in the =/<500MHz league you already have comparable iPad2 graphics performance, which at least I'd consider a reasonable 4x times over U8500 claim (besides marketing being marketing anywhere heh....).

    The weird thing is why neither ST nor IMG have announced such a license so far. It's not like 5XT is any sort of novelty or anything "groundbreaking" like Rogue either. Heck even MStar licensed that stuff for TV SoCs. The secrecy around the 9540 is definitely weird; another rather unlikely scenario would be a single core Mali T604. I wouldn't dump such a GPU onto something like 32nm either, but at a modest 32nm frequency it'll very well be just 4x times faster than single Mali400, it would be win-whatever ready and it still is an option that works within the dual source GPU strategy Arun mentions.

    In fact ARM could have good reason for not wanting ST to announce it just yet.
     
  16. tangey

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    Ever since the NovaThor family was announced, I've been trying to definitively determine who was providing the graphics in the middle chip, the A9540 (we know A9500 is Mali, and A9600 is Rogue). The announcement in Feb relating to ST-E & IMG specifically only mentioned PowerVr series 6, and ST-E had not previously licensed series 5. Asking IMG gave a non-answer, and ST-E's silence on the matter was deafening.

    Well, I can finally lay that one to rest, in today's mid-term results IMG confirmed that ST-Ericsson is a PowerVr5 & 6 licensee for its NovaThor Family:-

    http://www.imgtec.com/corporate/presentations/Interim11/index.asp?DisplayPage=30&#ViewTop
     
  17. ToTTenTranz

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    Since this is the only thread mentioning ST-Ericsson SoCs so far, here goes:

    Sony (non-Ericsson) Xperia Nyphon:
    - ST-Ericsson U8500 1GHz
    - 1GB RAM
    - 4" QHD
    - 8MP Exmor R camera

    http://semcblog.com/2011/12/13/sony-branded-xperia-android-phone-pops-up/

    I don't know how aggressively priced this model will be, but isn't the Mali400MP1 kind of a downgrade compared to the Adreno 205 in the 1.4GHz Snapdragon S2 they're using right now?
     
  18. Arun

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    It's clocked at about 400MHz (although I think there might be a SKU with slightly lower clocks) which is higher than both the Adreno 205 and Samsung's 45nm Mali-400 MP4 (when using all four cores). The Adreno 205 does have significantly higher ALU performance per clock but I think overall the higher clock speeds of the U8500's GPU should make them comparable :) Also obviously the U8500 has a clear advantage in terms of CPU (dual-core) and video (1080p).
     
  19. ToTTenTranz

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    Okay, I thought only the U9500 had the Mali400 clocked at 400MHz, and that would be one of the main differentiators between U8500 and U9500.
     
  20. Arun

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    U9500 is the same chip, just with the baseband disabled and coupled with the 21Mbps M5730 baseband (maybe they did later made a separate chip without the baseband to reduce costs but either way GPU frequency shouldn't be different - there might be multiple SKUs with different frequencies though, so I don't know for sure that this device has the GPU at 400MHz).
     

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