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Thursday, May 05, 2011

ST launches next generation dual core ARM chip for interfaces and multimedia

By Nick Flaherty

STMicroelectronics has developed a new embedded microprocessor with advanced multimedia capabilities. The latest addition to ST’s dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 microprocessor family, the SPEAr1340 targets a broad range of smart connected devices, from high-resolution video-conferencing to intelligent displays and web-connected devices.
The SPEAr1340 integrates an ARM Mali 200 graphics processing unit for 2D and 3D acceleration in user interfaces, navigation systems, browsing, and gaming. The new device also embeds a hardware video encoder and a decoder supporting major compression standards (including H.264, AVS and VP8), with video resolution up to 1080p and 30 frames per second. The SPEAr1340 can also handle multiple concurrent video flows (4 camera inputs available) in multimedia-intensive applications like surveillance video cameras.
With its multiple interfaces, including I2S and S/PDIF, the SPEAr1340 also provides up to 7.1 surround-sound configurations in both input and output paths.
In security, the SPEAr1340 integrates a multi-standard cryptographic engine and One Time Programmable (OTP) registers for unique identification and external flash memory anti-tamper protection.
“The SPEAr1340 represents the leading edge of the embedded microprocessor market,” said Loris Valenti, General Manager of STMicroelectronics’ Computer Systems Division. “The unique combination of formidable processing power, high-level features, peripheral integration and advanced multimedia capabilities targets applications from entry-level web-connected devices to video-conferencing and security systems.”
Manufactured in ST’s low-power 55nm HCMOS (high-speed CMOS) process technology, the new microprocessor benefits from the SPEAr1300 architecture which combines the multi-processing capabilities of two ARM Cortex-A9 cores with ST's Network-on-Chip (NoC) technology.
The dual ARM Cortex-A9 processors support both fully symmetric and asymmetric operations, at speeds of 600MHz/core (industrial worst-case conditions) for 3000 DMIPS equivalent. Network-on-Chip is a flexible communications architecture providing ‘Quality of Service’ (QoS) for the whole system as it enables multiple different traffic profiles while maximizing data throughput in the most performance- and power-efficient way.

Other features of the SPEAr1340 include:
  • 1x Giga/Fast Ethernet ports (for external GMII/RGMII/MII PHY)
  • 1x PCIe/SATA Gen2 links (with embedded PHY)
  • 2x USB 2.0 host ports with integrated PHYs
  • 1x USB2.0 OTG port with integrated PHY
  • I2S, UARTs, SPI, I2C ports
  • HD Display controller with Touch screen and Overlay windows capabilities
  • Memory Card controller supporting multiple standards
  • 6x6 keyboard controller
  • 4x Camera inputs
  • 4 -bit Parallel-port Video Input
  • 2x Consumer Electronic Control (CEC) ports
  • Secure Boot and Key Storage capabilities
  • Power-saving features 

Samples of the SPEAr1340 are now available only to lead customers for evaluation and prototyping. Software support is provided through the STLinux distribution and further distributions and support environments will be added in the future.

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