Next smart phones to be released from Sony are powered by the NovaThor U8500 platform from ST-Ericsson. Sony decided to shift from Snapdragon to ST-Ericsson chipsets for they are well known for its performance and power efficiency. Sony's 2011 port folio of smart phones packed Snapdragon chips and they were well known for the performance it delivered. Still, the battery performance suffered even though there was a 1500mah battery to power the devices. This might be the reason that prompted the company to try the ST-Ericsson chipsets on their 2012 port folio. ST-Ericsson chipsets are well known for their performance and the power efficient design.
The NovaThor U8500 is the first integrated smart phone platform to support Symmetric Multi-Processing (SMP) dual core technology in a high-performance, low-power and cost-optimized solution. Also, it is the first smart phone platform to support Full HD 1080p progressive-scan camcorder capabilities. The chipset also delivers high performance 2D and 3D graphics.
NovaThor™ U8500 block diagram
The NovaThor U8500 consists of the DB8500 dual core ARM Cortex-A9 SoC (system on chip) with ARM Mali 400MP graphics and NEON®CPU extensions, a built-in HSPA+/4G 14Mbps modem, peripheral chips that handle audio, USB, power and SIM card functions. It has a dual multimedia DSP for low-power, flexible media processing.
Symmetric multi-processing (SMP)
The SMP enabled dual core processor offers a high-end 3D graphics accelerator to enable high mobile computing and graphics performance. An SMP enabled architecture manages the different processes to be split among several processors giving priority to performance and power requirements. Xperia P, Xperia U and Xperia sola uses the same technique used for PCs and high-performance computing; ie, the aforementioned smart phones when running apps simultaneously can spread the applications across different processors, while individual computer-intensive applications can also make use of multi-processing by means of software multi-threading.
Even though the processing is complex, the SMP powered chips are power efficient. When a single processor runs at full capacity to complete a task, multi-processors work half as hard enabling the entire chip to run at a lower temperature and thereby saving the power and allows the user to do much more on a single battery charge.
Advantages of ARM Cortex-A9 processor
NovaThor U8500 packs the Cortex A9 processor. The Cortex A9 processor is well known for its maximum performance using minimum power and it has attracted a lot of manufactures to adopt it on their smart phones. Apple opted the Cortex A9 processor to do the computing on their iphone 4s.
Smart phones are prone to thermal conditions where there is a probability that the chipset blows off but the MPcore technology on the Cortex A9 processor supports the chip to work efficiently within the thermal constraints. The processor also has the ability to share software and tool investments across multiple devices. Cortex A9 employs a hard macro implementation that delivers a peak performance of 4000 DMIPs while consuming less than 250mW per CPU. The Cortex A9 Media Processing Engine (MPE) can be used with either of the Cortex-A9 processors and provides an engine that offers both the performance and functionality of the Cortex-A9 Floating-Point Unit (FPU) and implements the NEON Advanced SIMD instruction set for further acceleration of media and signal processing functions.
Mali-400MP dedicated to Graphics
Mali-400MP is the world's first OpenGL ES 2.0 conformant multi-core GPU that provides 2D and 3D acceleration with performance scalable up to 1080p resolutions, while maintaining power efficiency.
General Architectural features of ARM MALI GPU:
- To reduce memory bandwidth overhead and lower power consumption, advanced tile-based deferred rendering and local buffering of intermediate pixel states is made use of.
- To avoid additional bandwidth consumption or unexpected performance drops, MALI 400MP makes use of an efficient alpha blending of multiple layers in hardware.
- To allow virtualization of GPU memory resources and fine-grained memory protection, integrated MMU based on standard ARM MMU is employed.
- Full Scene Anti-Aliasing (FSAA) using rotated grid multi sampling.
- The fully autonomous GPU enables maximum parallelization of CPU and GPU tasks.
- Achieving power efficiency is a tedious task hence to maximize battery life and to minimize heat dissipation, independent CPU and GPU power management is adopted.
- The quality software drivers ensures maximum efficiency with low memory fragmentation, reduced integration time, cost and reduced support burden.
Xperia P, Xperia U and Xperia sola are the power efficient and maximum performance oriented smart phones from Sony since they pack the NovaThor U8500 chipset from ST-Ericsson. These smart phone have the unique advantage of the above mentioned technology from ARM and hence we hope that the smart phones will keep up to the promises of the company. The power efficiency of ARM processors might be the reason why Sony decided to give these phones a power source of only 1300mah (the first dual core from Sony had a 1700mah battery under the hood). Moreover they can make it cost efficient too.
Source : Developer World ARM ST-Ericsson
Edited by Nevin John, 05 May 2012 - 07:45 AM.