There were many questions on the main blog on the switch from Tegra to OMAP. I thought we should clarify this.

So which is better, Tegra or OMAP? NVidia will say Tegra of course and TI will say OMAP. Would that mean we should go by the benchmarks? Or may be sheer specifications of both the SoC? Doesn’t OMAP’s memory bandwidth is more than Tegra 3 and Snapdragon? But Tegra 3 is Quad Core, and even GPU is updated? Then why iPad 2 beats Tegra 3 by miles on GLBenchmark? We had a lot of similar questions while we wanted to opt for one. If you followed Kernel developments you’d know that OMAP was definitely the next SoC supported by Google, so this decision had to be made on our end and fast.

Answer came from a very experienced veteran in the industry (one of our 3 mentors), who said, unless as an OEM you can’t get 100% out of these chips, all benchmarks, specifications and latest developments are useless. So the answer wasn’t based on which chip can beat the other one, but which one can we leverage to the highest possible extent. And in this regard OMAP definitely beats any SoC out there w.r.t. documentation, number of use-case modeled, white papers, reference documents and much more. Bangalore also hosts a lot of Ex-TI professionals who helped build OMAP, so answers are not tough to find.

Unlike last time where we banked on Tegra without possibly fully utilizing its power, this time our focus is to offer TI the best product based on OMAP. TI is a very respectable firm and I believe Adam II will be a marvel in their portfolio.

Learning time!

Check out this link on TI’s site for more information on OMAP.

Chip Block Diagram Source: TI High Resolution LINK

Few important things we should read from this diagram:

  • Dual-channel LDPPR 2 memory, which makes for easier, faster memory access and overall system efficiency (isn’t all your OS on RAM?)
  • This diagram mentions POWERVR™ SGX540, but OMAP 4470 has SGX544
  • TWL6030 and TWL6040 are companion support chips, heavily optimized for lowering the power consumption on OMAP
  • WiLink™ 7.0 is a mobile Wireless LAN chip. Single solution for WLAN, GPS, Bluetooth and FM. It supports Bluetooth 3.0 as well as Bluetooth Low Energy Profile which is core feature of Bluetooth 4.0. Link

Few other terms we should know since we will be using them in future:

  • Interfaces (in out context protocols which hardware peripherals follow to talk to each other)
    • I2C : one of the best 2-wire interface invented by Phillips. Used to be slow, but now supports up to 3.4 Mbit/s. OMAP has 4 of these. Nearly all your sensors and touch screens support I2C interface. Read more details here: LINK
    • CSI-2:  this is Camera Serial Interface. Check this LINK
    • SPI: this is a Serial Peripheral Interface named by Motorola. For high-speed short distance I2C would be best, and for more distance, less speed on data transmission, SPI should be used.
    • McBSP: Multichannel Buffered Serial Port, supports DMA, full-duplex data transfer, and lot of configurability. TI uses this in lot of their products. Looking at the diagram, you can guess the importance while communicating with WLAN or 3G/4G. More here
    • UART: Universal Asynchronous Receiver/transmitter, translates data between parallel and serial forms, mostly used for Debug USB, WLAN Module, NFC, etc.

That’s all for this week, next time we will cover Major Blocks (IVA, ISP and the mighty SGX) on the Chip.

Warm Regards

Rohan Shravan