Freescale chip aims at 1GHz, sub-$200 Netbook

Freescale chip aims at 1GHz, sub-$200 Netbook New silicon for Netbooks is expected to be launched by Freescale Semiconductor at the Consumer Electronics Show this week in Las Vegas which it believes will come in below $200. 

According to to Freescale, formerly Motorola's chipmaking arm, “The ARM chip architecture-based i.MX51 processor is designed to enable low-power, gigahertz performance netbooks at sub-$200 price points.”

Every month, the definition of a Netbook transforms since different companies introduce their distinct vision of the device. Free scale too has followed the same path. Like Intel, Freescale also holds the opinion that the Netbook is a companion device to the PC, however it also envisions devices that are more frugal with power consumption and run the Linux operating system.

Glen Burchers, director global marketing for Freescale's consumer products group, reported, “Because the primary function (of a Netbook) is accessing the Internet, Linux and Firefox are a good operating system and application for that purpose.”

He does not think that ARM is directly competing with Intel Atom processors, which target a higher-end Netbook segment. He added, “ARM based processors can have a play, in addition to x86 (Intel). We don't believe ARM processor will replace x86, but will augment them for a certain segment of the market.”

It has been forecasted by ABI research that there should be plenty of space for competing visions of the Netbook over the next several years. ABI also expects that consumers would purchase 60 million netbooks in 2013, compared with only 182,000 sold in 2007. 

With the aim to develop a reference design that features the 1GHz ARM Cortex A8-based i.MX51 processor, Canonical's Ubuntu operating system, Adobe's Flash Player software, a new power management chip, and the SGTL5000 ultra low-power audio codec, Freescale has been working with Pegatron, a wholly owned Asus subsidiary. 

Now the users can get the Freescale's netbook reference design. According to the company, it is currently sampling the i.MX51 processor and MC13982 power management device to tier-one Netbook customers. Freescale concluded, “Volume production for the i.MX51 device is planned for Q2 2009 to power netbooks designed for the 2009 holiday shopping season.”

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