Renesas Intros MP6530 ARM big.LITTLE Quad-Core SoC with Integrated LTE

Renesas Electronics rolled out its flagship SoC for smartphones and tablets, the MP6530, it follows the ARM big.LITTLE specification of combining four high-performance Cortex-A15 cores clocked at speeds as high as 2.00 GHz, with four energy-efficient Cortex-A7 ones, which dynamically switch loads with the A15 cores.

In an ARM big.LITTLE SoC, there are two sets of four cores each, one consisting of Cortex-A15, the other Cortex-A7. When a Cortex-A15 core is underutilized, it wakes up a Cortex-A7 core to take its place, and power to it is gated. When a Cortex-A7 core is swamped, it wakes up a Cortex-A15 core to take over, which relieves it, and gates power to it. This method, according to ARM, is more efficient than having only one kind of cores (A15), and simply assigning them power-states.

Unlike recently launched flagship SoCs such as NVIDIA Tegra 4 or Samsung Exynos 5 Octa, Renesas MP6530 doesn't need an external soft-modem chip, it integrates one is capable of marshaling 4G LTE traffic.

According to the company, samples of the chip should be available to tier-1 OEMs by early 2013 (we assume within this quarter).

Renesas Mobile Corporation, an innovative supplier of advanced cellular semiconductor solutions and platforms, today announced the MP6530, its latest generation communication processor platform for LTE smartphones. The MP6530 extends the Renesas Mobile portfolio for mid- to high-end handsets priced between $200 and $400 by integrating a high-performance, up to 2GHz, applications processor with a product-proven LTE Cat-4 modem on a single die. Based on ARM big.LITTLE technology, the processor combines high performance, to deliver exciting multimedia use cases, and extreme power efficiency to extend device battery life. Samples of the MP6530 platform will be available to Tier 1 OEMs in early 2013.

big.LITTLE connects the high performance of the ARM Cortex-A15 MPCore processor with the energy efficiency of the Cortex-A7 processor, to enable application software to switch seamlessly between them. The Cortex-A15 processors can be used for compute-intensive applications, such as console-like gaming, fast page rendering and downloads while browsing, and media editing and processing. The Cortex-A7 processors take over to most efficiently process the majority of smartphone workloads and background tasks such as social media and email syncs, audio or video playback and other always-on, always-connected tasks.

"This ground-breaking addition to our integrated single-chip smartphone platform portfolio ensures that the balance between exciting compute-intensive applications and the power efficiency that extends battery life is always just right," commented Jean-Marie Rolland, chief technology officer and executive vice president of marketing and sales for Renesas Mobile Corporation. "The enhanced performance and impressive multimedia capabilities also allows our OEM customers to bring optimized mid- to high-end LTE devices to market quickly. The next-generation MP6530 is addressing current market needs as well as providing support for smartphone devices as they evolve."

The MP6530 platform represents a massive performance increase over Renesas Mobile's mid-tier MP5232 platform, to support more highly complex applications. GPU performance has been increased by 300 percent to effortlessly deliver immersive gaming experiences, compelling 2D and 3D interfaces and screens. It also drives full high-definition (HD) simultaneous 1080p video encoding and decoding for action-packed videos on the go. Renesas Mobile has also increased the memory performance 300 percent to enable new multimedia use cases and features such as full HD external display support and full HD over WiFi, allowing more people to bring mobile phone content to larger screens in their living rooms. In addition, the platform's enhanced imaging capabilities can deliver features that allow a smartphone to replace a digital still camera, with support for high-megapixel, digital SLR-like, on-the-fly imaging support, real-time face detection, image stabilization and noise filtering.

"The emergence of LTE is transforming smartphones into high-performance and always-on mobile multimedia computers. The challenge for enabling chipsets is to provide the best balance between high-performance and energy-efficient computing" said Malik Saadi, principal analyst - cross portfolio with Informa. "One of the best ways to achieve this goal is to integrate the LTE modem with a smart multi-geared CPU capable of selecting the optimum processor for each task handled."

The MP6530 inherits the maturity of the proven Cat-4 LTE modem used in the Renesas Mobile MP5232 platform. This provides the industry's highest throughput and low-power multi-mode FDD and TD-LTE Cat-4 capabilities, and OEMs can also benefit from significant development and certification efforts. This technology maturity essentially removes modem certification from customers' critical paths, reducing development costs and time to market. Existing MP5232 platform customers also benefit from a strong roadmap, new products and greater diversity.