Freescale may be the first semiconductor company to associate itself aggressively with portable Linux devices. The former Motorola semiconductor division is sharply targeting the low-priced Linux-based Netbook market, which is hot in the world market and just starting to get warm in the US.

Early this year, Freescale launched a new processor called the i.MX515 Cortex A8 Netbook Processor. Company literature positions the part for “low-power, gigahertz performance Netbooks at sub-$200 price points”. According to CNET, Glen Burchers, director of global marketing for Freescale's consumer products group, says “Because the primary function (of a Netbook) is accessing the Internet, Linux and Firefox are a good operating system and application for that purpose.”

Freescale is developing a reference design with ASUS-subsidiary Pegatron. It will feature the 1GHz i.MX51 processor, Ubuntu Linux, Adobe's Flash Player, a new power management chip and the SGTL5000 ultra-low-power audio codec.

Some data:

  • The i.MX515 is a 65nm CPU based on an ARM11 Cortex-A8 blueprint.
  • Clocks from 600MHz to 1GHz.
  • Includes the SGTL5000 ultra-low-power audio codec.
  • OpenVG and OpenGL graphics cores are available.
  • Up to eight hours battery life with displays up to 8.9".
  • Memory interface supports both DDR2 and mobile DDR1.
  • MC13982 power-management integrated circuit, for reduced size and weight and more battery life.

The company is working first with Tier 1 OEMs (so watch for ASUS units) and expects products to start hitting the market in Q2 of this year—in other words, about now.


Freescale Semiconductor:

“New Freescale Processors Target Linux Netbooks”:

“Freescale Chip Aims at 1GHz, $199 Netbook”:

“Freescale, Nvidia Chase Netbook Sockets”:


Doc Searls is the Editor in Chief of Linux Journal


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What about PowerPC?

Anonymous's picture

Freescale also has an excellent line of PowerPC processors. Freescale makes a concerted effort to get their PowerPC chips supported in the mainline kernel, but they don't do that for their i.MX chips. I'd say that makes the PowerPC chips more interesting to Linux users.

Not ARM11.

Anonymous's picture

You wrote: "ARM11 Cortex-A8". This is incorrect.
"ARM Cortex-A8" is the correct name. The Cortex A
line of ARM processors implement the ARM v7 architecture.