We announced our next-generation OMAP 5 platform last Monday, and the industry response has been tremendous.  There is a lot of excitement about how the OMAP platform will transform future mobile devices.  It was great to see the many interesting and positive articles, especially the creative references such as "Texas Instruments' OMAP 5 may bring Minority Report UI to reality", "Holy mobile computing Batman: TI announces OMAP 5, a monster 2 GHz quad core mobile processor" and "TI OMAP 5 will revolutionize mobile computing power!!".

In this blog post, I thought I would post answers to "five popular questions about the TI OMAP 5 platform" based on discussions I have had over the past week. I have also included a few links to videos and web pages that provide more information.

By the way, we are showcasing some amazing OMAP capabilities at the Mobile World Congress show this week in Barcelona, so if you will be there, please stop by to see the many new innovations coming from TI and our partners to mobile devices near you.  We are in Hall 8 - Booth 8A84.

I would love to talk to you more about the OMAP 5 platform and answer any questions you may have. If you aren't attending MWC, feel free to leave a comment.

Five popular questions about the TI OMAP 5 platform

1.    What are the key differences between the OMAP 4 platform and the OMAP 5 platform?

Before talking about the differences, it is first very important to point out that the OMAP 5 platform is built upon the OMAP 4 architecture to ensure maximum software compatibility and ease-of-migration.  Key enhancements are higher CPU and GPU performance,  improved visual subsystems to enable new natural user interface and computational photography capabilities and new interfaces for higher memory bandwidth, faster mass storage, efficient chip-to-chip connections and support for more higher-resolution cameras and displays.  The ARM® CortexTM-A9 processors have been upgraded with the latest ARM ARM Cortex-A15 MPCoreTM processor and two Cortex-M4 processors are included to provide low-power processing offload and real-time control functions.  The 3D graphics (GPU) has been upgraded with the latest Imagination Technology POWERVR multi-core SGX544-MPx technology, and a new TI 2D graphics core was added.  The TI visual processing engines have been enhanced to provide higher quality and throughput, supporting up to 24MP (12MP S3D) images and universal 1080p60 (1080p30 S3D) video, while interfacing simultaneously to four cameras and four displays.  Higher-speed interfaces including USB 3.0 OTG, SDXC flash memory, SATA 2.0 and the new MIPI® LLI and UniPort-M chip-to-chip interfaces and CSI-3 camera interface are supported. The OMAP 5 platform will power a new class of devices that can do more in a mobile power budget.

For more information you can view these two short videos: OMAP 5 platform and OMAP 5 system-on-chip (SoC). You can view this video to visualize how a transformed mobile device can change the concept of mobile.

 2.    Can you tell us more about how the OMAP 5 supports computational photography?

Computational photography is based on three pillars: image/video enhancement, next-generation camera experiences and vision processing.  The OMAP 5 will offer a tremendous range of processing engines that support these three pillars, along with software to enable a wide ecosystem to innovate using OMAP 5 resources .  These resources include a 4th-generation image signal processor, dual imaging accelerators, a C64x-based DSP, multi-core GPU, two ARM Cortex-A15 processors with NEONTM SIMD acceleration and two Cortex-M4 processors. TI and third-party partners have access to the world's most advance visual processing resources available to drive the mobile computational photography revolution.

3.     How does the OMAP 5 platform provide nearly 60% average power reduction for a sample use experience relative to the OMAP 4 platform?

The OMAP 5 platform benefits from being in a 28nm process (OMAP 4 platform was 45nm) that offers lower active power, along with the new SmartReflexTM 3 leakage power techniques that are unique to the TI implementation.  On top of this, the Cortex-A15 offers higher performance that allows it to run at a substantially lower voltage and frequency, resulting in lower average power resulting in an overall higher energy efficiency for the same workload. Together, these provide a significant reduction in average power.  Even if you run the  platforms at the same clock frequency, you still get a lower average power savings along with a substantially-improved user experience since the Cortex-A15 processor provides roughly a 50% boost in performance over the Cortex-A9 as the same clock frequency. This means that a 2 GHz Cortex-A15 processor effectively provides the performance of a 3 GHz Cortex-A9 processor (meaning that can't directly compare GHz between two different cores!)

 4.     What are the differences between the two initial OMAP 5 devices: the OMAP5430 and the OMAP5432?

These devices provide different memory and package options to target the needs of various customers and markets.  The OMAP5430 is targeted at smartphones and tablets, where size and power are paramount, offering a smaller 14mm x 14mm, 0.4mm ball pitch PoP (Package-on-Package) with support for dual-channel LPDDR2.  The OMAP5432 is targeted at other mobile consumer and computing devices that are not as size-constrained and require lower-complexity (cost) printed circuit board technology, offering a 17mm x 17mm BGA package with larger 0.5mm ball pitch (0.65mm PCB rules) and support for dual-channel DDR3/DDR3L memory. The OMAP5432 also has a few less interfaces than the OMAP5430 (e.g., supporting three  instead of four cameras).

 5.    Do you think dual Cortex-A15 cores will outperform quad Cortex-A9 cores?

Mobile systems demand high performance within a very small power envelope to support an always-on user experience.  TI has been leading the market in this regard for well over a decade.  We considered a quad Cortex-A9 approach when defining OMAP 5, but found that the dual-core Cortex-A15 approach better met mobile system demands while providing higher peak performance and energy efficiency.  Additionally, the Cortex-A15 solution provides key benefits that aren't available with Cortex-A9 alternatives including support for larger memory and hardware virtualization that enable truly mobile computing that can extend beyond content consumption devices to content creation and high-productivity devices.   With our sophisticated, multi-core OMAP 5 architecture, we can provide the optimum balance of higher performance at the lowest power, with new capabilities that make true mobile computing a reality.