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i.MX8 Masters Multimedia

January 24, 2017

Author: Tom R. Halfhill

Unless Santa Claus was very generous this year, most people still don’t have 4K UltraHD TVs with high dynamic range (HDR) and surround sound. NXP hopes to change that with new 64-bit media processors that can bring the latest digital video and audio to TVs and other embedded systems. Four chips in the new i.MX8M series have ARMv8 CPUs and enough additional processing power for almost any digital media application.

The superset design in this series is the i.MX8M Quad. It has four 64-bit Cortex-A53 CPUs, one 32-bit Cortex-M4F coprocessor, a VeriSilicon GPU, a high-performance video engine, a multichannel audio engine, and dual camera interfaces. NXP is targeting 1.5GHz for the main CPUs. The i.MX8M QuadLite, Dual, and Solo models are subsets of this design. All four chips are scheduled to sample in 1Q17 and reach volume production in 4Q17.

The new i.MX8M processors comprise the media-centric branch of the i.MX8 family, which has now more than doubled in size. The first three chips in this family—the i.MX8 QuadMax, QuadPlus, and Quad—are even more powerful and target automotive as well as industrial applications. The i.MX8 superset design is the QuadMax, which more than doubles the processing power by adding two Cortex-A72 CPUs to the i.MX8M configuration.

TSMC manufactures the new i.MX8M series in a conventional 28nm process like that used for its QorIQ communications processors. By contrast, Samsung manufactures the i.MX8 series in its 28nm fully depleted silicon-on-insulator (FD-SOI) process, which reduces dynamic power, leakage current, and soft-error rates. NXP probably chose FD-SOI for its higher-performance models that will command higher prices and need the additional power savings, but the unique process puts the products on a later schedule. NXP expects to sample the i.MX8-series by 2Q17, with production sometime in 2H18.

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