Nufront prepares desktop-oriented ARM SoC

It might have been a long time since an ARM processor graced your desktop - even if there's almost certainly at least one in your pocket right now - but a Chinese company is looking to bring back the glory days of the architecture with a new System on Chip design.

Nufront has teamed up with ARM to design and produce a System on Chip (SoC) implementation of ARM's Cortex-A9 MPCore processor featuring two processing cores running at an impressive 2GHz and based on a 40nm manufacturing process - the NuSmart 2816.

Unlike previous ARM Cortex implementations, Nufront is aiming squarely at the mainstream - rather than mobile - market, with support for 2D/3D graphics acceleration, a 64-bit DDR2/3-1066 memory controller, and full-HD 1080p video capabilities.

If that wasn't enough, the chip even has integrated SATA 2, USB 2, and Ethernet controllers - and the company claims that its multi-layer hybrid interconnection technology combined with fine-grain power management features mean that all this comes in a chip drawing less than two watts when run at the battery-friendly speed of 1.6GHz.

Vince Zhou, general manager of Nufront's chip division, reckons "the closed computing market is entering a new era after 30 years of unidirectional evolution." He claims developments driven by SoC technology and the virtual IDM industry model, "have been well developed in the open mobile market resulting in high power efficiency and versatile user experience." He sees this as the perfect opportunity for ARM to regain the desktop.

Those who have been looking forwards to ARM's return to general-purpose computing since the Acorn RISC-PC disappeared will be pleased to hear that Nufront is looking to put the NuSmart 2816 into netbooks, notebooks, tablets, and all-in-one PC designs - with the first such products due to be demonstrated at CES in January next year.

Although ARM still has some hurdles to jump to retake the desktop market, not least of which is the lack of support for the architecture in mainstream Windows versions, this certainly brings the company a massive step closer to that goal.