Nufront, a leading Chinese high-tech company, and ARM today announced the NuSmart 2816, a 40nm SoC [System-on-a-Chip] built by Taiwanese Chip giant TSMC.
 
The NuSmart 2816 is the world?s first chip to integrate a 2GHz dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor, multi-core 2D/3D graphics processor, 64bit DDR2/3-1066 memory controller, 1080p multi-format video engine, SATA-II controller, USB 2.0, Ethernet, together with general I/O controllers. NuSmart says the 2816 is very energy efficient consuming less than two watts when running at 1.6GHz.
 
Nufront aims to sell $250 ARM-based desktop PCs, and use the same platform for ultra-thin and ultra-light laptops, as well as high-performance, multi-tasking tablets. The first products based on the NuSmart 2816 will be shown in January at CES 2011 in Las Vegas. Nufront has confirmed that it is working on other SoCs to be released in 2011.
 
We asked Van Smith, our benchmarking editor, his immediate reaction to the specifications. Van said "Given the listed specs, a 2GHz NuSmart 2816 will probably feel faster than a typical 1.66GHz Atom-based netbook, although there will be a lot of benchmarks [e.g. Floating-Point, JavaScript] where the Atom will win. Power requirements for any ARM-based system will be substantially lower."
 
Smith wants to see how the NuSmart 2816 with the Mali Mali400MP compares with integrated GPUs from Intel, AMD, and nVidia. He explained: "The NuSmart 2816 supports 64-bit DDR2/3 1066. I think this is pretty close to the practical, bare minimum for 1080p high-bit rate h.264 videos." This appears to be a problem area for the Cortex-A9 MP because the nVidia Tegra 250 [1GHz] version just lost the D-Link Bee Box design to Intel’s Atom CE4100 for that reason.

Nufront ARM Cortex-A9 based SoC for ultra-affordable computers

Nufront ARM Cortex-A9 based SoC for ultra-affordable computers

 
Smith said in the photo of the prototype there appeared to be a thermal sensor patched to the SoC. He thinks this suggests it might run hot, although it was equipped with a relatively small passive heatsink.
 
Nufront sounds like they are following the GlobalFoundries/ARM road map shown earlier this month. Nufront is already designing their next generation of chips, including a quad-core A9 running at 2.5 watts, a single-core running at 0.8 watts [1.2GHz] and a 28nm quad-core [3.5Watts] expected to hit a blazing 2.5GHz.
 
Smith said he would really like to compare the NuSmart 2816 to his suite of previously comparatively benchmarked platforms [AMD Athlon Mobile, Freescale i.MX515 - Cortex-A8, Intel Atom, VIA Nano L3050]. We wonder if Nufront will be any faster at delivering their NuSmart 2816 than nVidia has been with their Tegra 250 ? which are still "scarcer than hens? teeth" as my grandad would say.