The SoC - OMAP3 3430

Before we dive into the phones, let's take a look at the SoC at the core of both. We talked about the OMAP 3430 back in 2009 (well maybe not way back, but it sure feels like it) in the context of the Palm Pre, which uses the OMAP 3430. It turns out that Texas Instruments' OMAP 3430 SoC is quite popular if not a microcosm of the generation of smartphones we're talking about; it's common to the N900, Motorola Droid, and Palm Pre.

 
OMAP 3430 Block Diagram
 

The Texas Instruments OMAP 3430 is designed for a 65nm manufacturing process, in fact, all of the OMAP34x series are designed for 65-nm process, whereas OMAP36 is intended for 45-nm processes. OMAP 3430 supports up to 12 megapixel cameras on its onboard image-signal processor, and packs an onboard IVA 2+ image, video and audio DSP accelerator clocked at 430 MHz, and a PowerVR SGX 530 GPU. Those clocks are recommended by TI, but in practice handset OEMs set them through a dialog with carriers to meet appropriate performance and battery life targets. OMAP3430's IVA 2+ supports MPEG-4 and H.264 encode/decode of 30 fps video at 720x480, and WMV9 decode at the same resolution and framerate. OMAP3430 can drive displays up to WXGA (1280x800) resolution at 24-bits. Note that the OMAP3 series SoCs don't pack internal cellular modems, meaning OEMs shop around for their own and connect over internal USB or multi channel buffered serial (McBSP).

At the heart of the OMAP 3430 SoC is the 600 MHz ARM Cortex A8 CPU. Remember that Cortex-A8 is an ARMv7 design with a 13 stage pipeline, compared to the 8 stage ARM11 (ARMv6) design common to OMAP2 and the CPU in the iPhone 3G. In practice, the performance delta between ARMv6 (ARM11) and ARMv7 (Cortex-A8) is between 2x and 3x.

 

Birds of a feather: N900 and Motorola Droid Physical Comparison and OMAP 3430 Continued
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  • akse - Friday, June 11, 2010 - link

    I've got my N900 clocked to use 250Mhz idle and 805Mhz stress clocks and it fastens everything by huge amount. 600Mhz is sometimes a bit slow and if you up it a little bit, everything starts to get smoother..

    The custom kernel is using lower voltages but higher clocks than nokia stock kernel.. which is why 805mhz drains just about the same amount of power than 600mhz with stock kernel.

    I just love the fact that you can do that kind of things on this phone..

    One guy was asking how to backup sms messages.. well there wasn't any app for it so you could just run a command with sqlite in Xterm to search through the database for all sms's and forward the results with > to a text file :)
    Reply
  • Exodite - Friday, June 11, 2010 - link

    That's a truly epic article, the in-depth look at both the hard- and software side of things is far and above what I'm used to reading regarding smartphone reviews. Many thanks for that!

    Looking forward to similar articles in the future.
    Reply
  • medi01 - Friday, June 11, 2010 - link

    Epic, right, and you don't care that Apple's device is visible where it has advantage but is not shown, where it doesn't. Like on contrast comparison images.

    Misterious.
    Reply
  • Exodite - Friday, June 11, 2010 - link

    No, can't say I mind that at all really.

    Then again I'm not in the market for an iPhone anyway.
    Reply
  • Brian Klug - Friday, June 11, 2010 - link

    I actually completely spaced on that one - I probably had a 3GS in my pocket when I took those photos.

    There's no conspiracy - I just thought that the Incredible's AMOLED display would make an interesting comparison with the Motorola Droid's LCD, and the N900's resistive layer would mix things up a bit.

    The iPhone screen really shows its age in the numbers from the bench though. It leaks light pretty badly and obviously the lower PPI is... well... bad.

    Cheers,
    Brian
    Reply
  • Rayb - Friday, June 11, 2010 - link

    Nokia has been making devices that work without much hoopla for a long time. It is not for everyone but it beats the available iPhone in more useful ways than is possible. Reply
  • Helmore - Friday, June 11, 2010 - link

    The Adrena 200 is based on the AMD Z430 GPU. A Z340 does not even exist AFAIK.
    I know, I'm nitpicking here, but I just thought I had to mention it.

    The Adreno 200 runs at a frequency of 133 MHz, giving it a theoretical performance of 133 MPixels/s of fill rate and 22 Million Triangle/s. The Adreno 205 is the same core but running at 200 MHz and is what will be used in the MSM7X30 and QSD8X50A (45 nm version of the current Snapdragon chip with some small tweaks). The SGX530 used in the Droid (OMAP3430) runs at around 100 MHz, which should give it a theoretical fill rate of 250 MPixels/s and a 7 million Triangles/s. On the OMAP3630 the SGX530 will run at 200 MHz AFAIK. That's all theoretical performance, as we all know they're only part of the story. Just take a look at the GTX480 and the Radeon 5870 and you'll know that theoretical performance doesn't get you very far.
    Reply
  • fabarati - Friday, June 11, 2010 - link

    1) there was a mistake on the N900 hardware page: it's a 3.5 mm jack, not a 1.8 mm. You probably mixed it up with 1/8"

    2) The N900 can do Video calling over 3G, like most 3G phones in Europe have done since 2003. It works ok, but it's hella expensive, so no one does it more than once or twice.
    Reply
  • Brian Klug - Friday, June 11, 2010 - link

    Fixed! Thanks!

    -Brian
    Reply
  • wobblysausage - Tuesday, June 15, 2010 - link

    Lies! It cannot make a 3g video call.

    It can make a skype video call (or a google chat video call) over a 3g data connection but this is not the same thing. Not nearly.

    I've had my N900 since November and this is the 1 thing I really miss.
    Reply

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