OMAP everywhere


Jul 06, 2009 GMT
Oliver Frommel

My preoccupation with the Beagleboard has made me more aware of ARM and in particular OMAP based hardware products. Even more so as I am very much interested in low power computing and rumour has it that ARM cores use a lot less power than any i386 architecture including Atom chips. In my view using ARM cores with an additional DSP (which can be seen as a kind of asymmetrical multi-core) is a good fit for low power computers with an occasional need for high performance multimedia computing such as video decoding.

So I got pretty excited when Dell announced an ARM based laptop a while ago which is supposed to have a "multi-day" battery life. (Dell also does Via Nano based rack servers but I don't know anything about their power consumption yet). While looking for those on the Internet I had to learn that presumably Dell has changed their plans and the E4200 and E4300 devices have silently become Intel based devices. Probably someone at Dell has become aware of the fact that there is no general purpose Windows for the ARM processor family (CE only).

However I encountered another OMAP based netbook called Touchbook by the company Always Innovating. You can pre-order the device which is supposed to be shipping this month according to their web site. It has an OMAP3530 (same as the Beagleboard) with 256 MB RAM and 256 NAND memory (that is non-volatile memory). It doesn't have a hard disk but instead permanently saves data on an SD(HC) card. The device will be running Angstrom Linux Angstrom with the Xfce window manager and the usual media applications such as MPlayer, F-Spot and Pidgin.

You will find more or less the same hardware in the long-awaited Open Pandora handheld game console, which unfortunately has been delayed due to the financial crisis. Not to mention the constantly growing number of smart phones that make use of the OMAP chip series. You may take Adobe's recent announcement to bring the Flash technology to the OMAP platform as a sign of it's still growing importance, too. Oh yeah, and the Palm Pre, too :)


  • Omap has been everywhere already

    HTC Wizard (has an omap850) was released to the consumer market in 2005. OMAP has been around already thats old news. News worthy would be the OMAP 4 platform... ARM cores are what is driving the market for this SoC
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