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Interview with Nufront: “Windows RT will take away market share from notebooks”

We’ve been following Chinese fabless semiconductor company, Nufront, for over two years and identified the startup as one of the more innovative ones launching a desktop-oriented ARM SoC in September 2010 (opens in new tab) in collaboration with the British company. caught up with Rock Yang, its VP Marketing, for a candid discussion about the booming Chinese mobile device market and the future of the ARM ecosystem amongst other things.

1. To date, how many design wins did Nufront accumulate?

We have more than 30 design wins so far on tablet market in China.

2. Has there been any products launched based on ARM Osprey?

Yes, our customer started selling Osprey based Tablet from Q1 this year. (Osprey is the name given to a two-prong implementation of a dual-core Cortex-A9 processor design, one introduced in September 2009 and with a maximum clockspeed of 2GHz).

(opens in new tab)3. What are your thoughts about Windows RT?

It’s all about the selling price, I never doubt the performance or user experience of [Windows] RT, while the price will decide how it can compete with iPad. And also RT will impact Windows/Intel products in business category and take share from NB [notebooks] as well.

4. What happened to the server optimised chip you mentioned two years ago (see Nufront To Launch ARM-based Server Chip In August 2011? (opens in new tab))

Since the ARM based server market is not booming as we expected and Cortex-A9 for server is not good enough, we postponed the server chip plan, while we have been keeping an eye on it and one of the reasons of licensing A15 is server market too.

5. When do you expect Nufront to bring out (a) its first Cortex-A15/Mali Midgard products (b) products based on your Vivante/Ceva license

We are targeting the end of 2013.

6. Why is it that Nufront is not as popular as rivals such as AllWinner, VIA, Mediatek, Rockchip especially at the lower end of the market?

We started from dual core system-on-chips, and dual core SoCs are going down to low end but not yet, it’s still single Cortex-A8 everywhere, while we believe the dual core A9 will go to the low end by the end of this year, and we will definitely be there, we are ready.

Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.