Article: A first look at NVIDIA's APX 2500

Tuesday 12th February 2008, 11:00:00 AM, written by Arun

NVIDIA has just announced the 65nm APX 2500, an application processor supporting 720p H.264 video, OpenGL ES 2.0, and HDMI output. On the processing side, it sports an ARM11 core at 750MHz. We had a quick chat with Mike Rayfield and touched on a variety of subjects and interesting design choices...

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nvidia ± ap15, apx2500

Latest Thread Comments (42 total)
Posted by Lazy8s on Tuesday, 19-Feb-08 07:36:30 UTC
It took at least two clocks for SGX510's USSE-Lite pipeline to draw a pixel.

While BitBoys's profitability had already validated the market opportunity, and possibly vector graphics performance advantage, for devices with vector acceleration but no real 3D, the existence of the VGX family must mean that Imgtec feels they're missing out on some important design wins.

In the November 2, 2007 Imgtec PR announcing the increasing pace of mobile 3D adoption and the introduction of the SGX540, the SGX510 was sidelined as Imgtec projected that the 520 would set the base-line of performance going forward for SGX parts in devices.

Posted by Lazy8s on Tuesday, 19-Feb-08 08:27:16 UTC
A TI presentation a while back quoted the OMAP3420's polygon performance at half the 3430's, and I doubt clock speed variation was used to make that scale. I think the SGX520 and 530 are being used in the OMAP3420 and 3430, respectively, despite evidence from Imgtec's announcements of TI licensing not supporting that idea.

Along that line, I also think the SGX540 is the core in the OMAP3440 since that SoC seems to upscale the various components of the OMAP3 architecture for the MID market.

Posted by knux on Wednesday, 02-Apr-08 11:57:26 UTC
Quoting Arun
Broadcom's BCM2727 is claimed to be capable of 5 hours of 720p video playback. It's not clear what codec that refers to though, and whether it includes the screen or was measured via HDMI streaming. As for NVIDIA's other direct competitors - the OMAP3430/3440 and the STw4820 - none of them release* any power consumption number at all, so who knows. I'd tend to argue however that if it was lower, they'd be bragging about it right now*...

Rated at 620MHz? Not at all; that rumour comes from ARM's claims for ARM11 in general, which is just an indication for potential licensees. That doesn't mean the specific chip in the iPhone could reach that frequency - it very likely could not. However, I was also wrong and the iPhone's correct frequency is 412MHz. Strange, my initial googling turned out a reliable source with a number in the 300s - oh well, fixed! :)
Actually, the OMAP 3 platform IS indeed implemented in a 65nm process:
From Feb 07 issue of Powervr Insider Newsletter:
"The first devices in TIs OMAP 3 multimedia
applications processor architecture are
implemented in a 65nm process and utilise
the ARM Cortex-A8 to deliver up to a 3x gain
in performance over ARM11-based

Why should they be bragging about it? They probably don't even consider the APX 2500 to be a competitor for the OMAP3430. Oh, and are you guys also not realizing that Cortex-A8 is roughly 2-3x faster than ARM11 clock for clock? Therefore even if the OMAP3430 is clocked at 550/600 Mhz, it'll still be 1.5-2x faster than the 750 Mhz ARM11 in the APX 2500.

Posted by knux on Wednesday, 02-Apr-08 12:06:39 UTC
Further proof of the OMAP3430's power consumption:

scroll down to page 8

Posted by Arun on Wednesday, 02-Apr-08 13:01:07 UTC
Errr, the OMAP3 Family has been known to be implemented in 65nm since it's announcement (and even before). This isn't news and I don't know why you think it is. And wait, what? Are you implying the only factor that matters in terms of power consumption is the process technology used? That is so far from being the case I don't know where to start. I have no idea why you think you have the knowledge necessary to judge these things.

As for Cortex-A8 vs ARM11, you once again don't seem to make any effort to get your facts straight. From my article: 'Based on a little bit of Googling, we found out that should result in performance of 920 Dhrystone MIPS, while TI's OMAP3430 should deliver 1100 Dhrystone MIPS with its 550MHz Cortex-A8. So definitely pretty close and likely a decent trade-off, given the noticeably smaller die size and possibly lower power.' - you can verify those performance numbers based on the clock speeds and the Dhrystone claims from ARM's website. So please stop spreading FUD, Cortex-A8's performance/clock isn't nearly twice that of the ARM11.

Posted by knux on Wednesday, 02-Apr-08 13:09:59 UTC
Yeah I guess you're right. I stand corrected.

Posted by Arun on Wednesday, 02-Apr-08 13:16:45 UTC
Heh okay, at least you're willing to admit error on that, that's great! :) Certainly makes for a much more pleasant discussion on both sides of the issue. Either way, I'm not saying OMAP3 has lower power efficiency; I don't know that. It very well might be more efficient and TI's PR strategy might just be less aggressive because they don't think they need to impress the press, just the OEMs. I don't think that's very likely, but it's possible. I'd certainly be very interested in any real data here, although I fear there really isn't any of that in the public domain.

Posted by knux on Wednesday, 02-Apr-08 13:30:41 UTC
Yeah, the thing is, I didn't care to read your front page article (i did after your reply), but I did read somewhere (prolly not too reliable) that the Cortex-A8's performance/clock is somewhere around 2x more than the ARM11. Anyway, I doubt the APX 2500 will have more design wins than the OMAP3430 since the APX 2500 apparently only supports Windows mobile devices. And I think we all know how ineffective/inefficient Windows Mobile devices' power management is compared to Symbian or other OS's.

Posted by Arun on Wednesday, 02-Apr-08 14:56:16 UTC
Yeah, NV's bet seems to be on Windows Mobile 6.1 and, more specifically, 7.0 though. The latter looks rather nice ( I do not agree with that bet for a variety of reasons, but I think for this SPECIFIC chip it is a good strategy because:
- Symbian is specific to only a few manufacturers (or carriers); if you know in advance you won't get design wins there for political reasons or whatever, it's not worth bothering with the OS.
- Non-Android Linux is too fragmented, and Android's user interface isn't advanced enough to really benefit from a 3D GPU; this will change in time, but the APX is too high-end for initial Android phones.
- Windows Mobile 7 is promising and, more interestingly, WM will remain important in the PDA market. It's not a lot of units, but NVIDIA has had success there and maybe they think they can get design wins again in that category.
- Unlike TI and more like Samsung, NVIDIA is also focusing on Personal Media Players and Personal Navigation Devices. These markets will either use proprietary OSes (so NV's strategy is fine there) or, less frequently, Windows Mobile.

However, I would be very disappointed if:
- NVIDIA's lower-end derivatives later this year and their future high-end next year didn't support Android.
- NVIDIA wasn't willing to work with customers with proprietary OSes, such as Apple and RIM, or those using Symbian.

NV claimed to already have 4 design wins at 3GSM (or more specifically, 4 companies where they had design wins); that amounts to one PMP design win (likely Sansa), one PND/GPS design win, one unbranded mobile phone design win (likely at an US carrier) and one branded mobile phone design win (likely at Motorola or HTC). I don't know whether they have more by now, obviously, but certainly that's what they are working on.

Posted by havchr on Tuesday, 08-Apr-08 00:36:50 UTC
This device looks very interesting.It'll be fun to see what graphics on handheld devices will evolve to become.

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