Marvell started by showing us the PXA1928 which is the application processor/SoC that is being used in Google’s Project Ara modular smartphone (The Project Ara Smartphone Moves Towards Implementation). The chip is based on the Cortex-A53 Arm design running at 1.5GHz in a quad core configuration and supports LTE radio architecture. Staff told us that one of the main challenges for the phone is that it is relatively thick and that may be a barrier to adoption by some consumers. We asked if there were likely to be reliability issues for the system, with so many connectors, but staff at Marvell said that the design seems quite robust. The first trials of the technology will be in Puerto Rico in March and April. Marvell believes that the choice of territory is to limit the numbers of devices that will need to be supported in the early phase of the project.
Samsung will use the Marvell PXA1908 in its J1 LTE smartphone.
Marvell also highlighted the range of devices that are using its PXA1920 Quad Cortex-A7 processor which is being used by Samsung, Lenovo, ZTE and Coolpad – a significant Chinese brand. We also looked at the PXA 1088 which is being used in a range of products including tablets and Wi-Fi hotspots. It is also being used in automotive systems that work with the European eCall initiative which is being introduced to mandate that cars are fitted with a GPS and transmitter that automatically (or manually) sends location data in the event of a crash. Although originally planned for 2015, the technology is likely to be implemented in 2017 or 2018.
Marvell was also talking about its eMBMS technology for broadcast and multicast services using cellular and LTE technology. The PXA1802, PXA1920, PXA1928, PXA1908 and PXA1936, have been enhanced to support eMBMS and are likely to be used in smartphones, mobile hotspots and home gateways.
Finally, we looked at a “Smart Home Cloud Center” that supports Wi-Fi, ethernet, Bluetooth and Zigbee and PLC technology so that it can run a “smart home” controller. The device has an option for a 2.5″ HDD and has a coloured LED that can colour the area around the box.