Panasonic announces dual-core ARM-based UniPhier

Panasonic has announced a new ARM-based processor which it hopes will boost the capabilities of smart TVs: the UniPhier MN2WS0220.

Based on a dual-core Cortex-A9 design from British low-power chip specialist ARM, the 1.4GHz LSI is the latest in Panasonic's UniPhier - Universal Platform for High-quality Image Enhancing Revolution, apparently - range targeting 'smart TV' applications.

Combining Panasonic's high-quality audio-visual processing technology with a high-speed CPU on a single chip, the UniPhier MN2WS0220 is currently the fastest TV system LSI around. Despite its high performance, Panasonic claims that the new UniPhier reduces power consumption by around 40 per cent when compared with its previous generation chips.

The new UniPhier also includes a high-performance 3D graphics engine, and while Panasonic is keeping quiet on the details it seems certain that it's based around ARM's Mali GPU technology. Whether this will be used purely for rendering UI elements or herald the dawn of TVs with in-built games, however, isn't yet clear.

Smart TVs are considered to be the next major battleground for chip vendors: Intel has a range of specialist Atom processors designed for such devices under the umbrella of 'Consumer Electronics,' but much of the market is looking to embedded specialist ARM for its low-power know-how.

With vast amounts of content available on-line through services such as BBC's iPlayer, the ability to stream Internet video will become a near-mandatory requirement for modern TVs. It's clear that Panasonic is hoping its latest chip puts it ahead of its rivals in the game.

Sample chips are due to ship later this month, with Panasonic likely to use the UniPhier LSIs in its own TVs as well as sell the components on to other manufacturers. Pricing has not yet been disclosed.