HDTVs are increasingly becoming Internet appliances as much as they are televisions. The latest trend from all the major manufacturers is to include widgets and local network access which is pushing the limits of the custom CPUs. This is why LG has shifted focus away from making the central CPU itself, and outsourced the work to ARM.
LG has reportable chosen the ARM11 MPCore Processor to do the dirty in upcoming HDTVs. This chip is a multi-core CPU that, along with the ARM Mali graphics chip, should eliminate everyone’s main complaint about on-TV widgets: lag.
In the past TV manufacturers generally made the CPU themselves. This was never a big deal as the only thing the TV ever had to display was a menu and the picture. But now that consumers want more out of their HDTVS – or manufacturers say they do at least – these chips haven’t impressed. ARM CPUs are quickly becoming the go-to chip for manufacturers as they have been used for sometime by some.
We spent some time with the Yahoo Widget Engine at CES and walked away unimpressed. The system isn’t that responsive and is somewhat buggy. Probably because the chips running the system was never designed to handle such operations. That’s where ARM, and others like Intel, comes in.
Variations of the ARM11 CPU are already found in the iPhone 3G, iPods, the Palm Pre, and a lot of Nokia devices. Maybe we’ll even see ARM Cortex architecture sometime in the future. (That’s what the iPhone 3G S and Archos products are built-on) You have to imagine that Intel wouldn’t mind part of this pie either seeing as it helped develop the Yahoo Widget Engine.
Hopefully this move is the beginning of the next era of HDTVs. Hopefully we’re entering a time when televisions are more off a home appliance rather than a dedicated video device.