So, who makes the processor humming under the new BlackBerry PlayBook's hood? That important question was not answered yesterday when RIM announced the 7-inch tablet.
Yesterday, when Research In Motion co-CEO Michael Lazaridis unveiled the BlackBerry PlayBook during the opening keynote event at the DevCon developer conference, the dual-core processor was touted by Lazaridis as a marquee feature. But little else was revealed about what is probably the single most important piece of internal hardware.
Here's what we know about the tablet, due early next year in the U.S.: The PlayBook uses "1 gigahertz dual-core processors that take advantage of built-in symmetric multiprocessing," according to Lazaridis during the keynote speech. In symmetric multiprocessing (SMP), the operating system handles all allocation of threads, or tasks, to the processors. Most current high-level operating systems have built-in support for this mode of operation, according to a description of SMP on ARM's Web site.
That open-ended statement by Lazaridis presents a few possibilities that could fit the bill. Nvidia is shipping a dual-core Tegra processor and Texas Instruments has a dual-core OMAP processor due soon. Both chips--technically referred to as application processors--are based on the ARM Cortex A9 design and support symmetric multiprocessing. And Qualcomm will offer a chipset with a dual-core processor running at up to 1.5GHz next year.
Linely Gwennap, principal analyst, the Linley Group, said the only dual-core 1GHz ARM processor that is in production today is Nvidia's Tegra 2. He also cited TI's OMAP 4, which is due to enter production in Q4 this year as a candidate.
But RIM is a longtime user of application processors from Santa Clara, Calif.-based Marvell Semiconductor.… Read more