Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Freescale chip built to power sub-$99 e-readers

Feeding the e-book craze, a new hardware controller chip from Freescale aims to lower the cost of e-readers below the magic $98 price point while extending battery life to weeks. Look for a flood of ultra-low priced eReaders by Christmas. R.C.J.

Developed in cooperation with E-Ink, maker of the Vizplex electrophoretic display universally used in all of today's popular e-readers, the i.MX508 system-on-chip (SoC) combines a hardware Vizplex controller with a fast ARM Cortex-A8 applications processor and special e-reader power-savings modes. E-readers will achieve 60 percent market penetration if their prices can be lowered below $99, according to Forrester Research. To help original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) meet that magic $98 price point, Freescale has integrated an E-Ink display controller into the SoC alongside Freescale's i.MX508 applications processor for a total cost under $10 (compared to as much as $20 for a standalone display controller today). The i.MX508 also integrates flash memory, dual USB controllers, a DDR2 low-power high-speed interface to SDRAM, support for an auxiliary LCD (like that used on Barnes and Noble's Nook) and other integrated capabilities to reduce the OEMs bill-of-materials.
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