As other tablets like the Motorola Xoom and the Apple iPad 2 have made their mark in the consumer electronics market, many have waited with anticipation to see what Canadian smartphone company Research-In-Motion (RIM) would respond with. At one time RIM was the unprecedented leader in smartphones, with their Blackberry line controlling almost the smartphone market share. Over time, RIM has seen its dominance dwindle because of companies like Apple and Motorola. It should come as no surprise then that RIM was quick to announce their contribution to the burgeoning tablet market with the introduction of the RIM Blackberry Playbook.
With much speculation as to when the Playbook would finally be released, RIM announced the launch date officially as April 19th, 2011. This 7-inch tablet also displays the fruits of RIM’s latest acquisition, QNX as the Playbook is the first to feature a new operating system called Tablet OS, optimized for the Playbook. This OS also supports Android applications - which open up the Playbook to a huge library of software.
Early reviews for the Playbook have been lukewarm based on some expectations with the OS but how does the hardware hold up? Our teardown of the RIM Blackberry Playbook will provide a better idea of how the technology compares to recent releases like the iPad 2, the Xoom and Samsung Galaxy Tab.
Once we opened up the Blackberry Playbook (which was no easy task due to a very rigidly built tablet), we immediately recognized that Texas Instruments would be the major design winner. The biggest of the design wins came in the form of the selection of the OMAP4430 to be the Playbook’s applications processor. To coincide with the selection of the OMAP4430, RIM has seemingly decided to stay with the OMAP 4 platform by selecting key components like the TWL6040 power management IC and the PS63020 high efficiency single inductor buck-boost converter.
Another MAJOR design win for TI and one that had our resident RF experts excited was the discovery of the Texas Instruments WL1283C WiLink 7.0 single-chip WLAN, GPS, Bluetooth and FM solution. This is the first time we’ve seen a four-in-one radio IC in use in a consumer application product and the decision to utilize this in the Playbook shows that RIM was willing to make daring decision designs.
Primary Component Listing:
We haven’t had a chance to do a full analysis of the OMAP4430 package-on-package (which features Elpida Low Power DDR2 DRAM) found in the Playbook just yet - though we’ll be done soon enough, we have had the opportunity to delve into the OMAP4430 in a standalone IC we analyzed earlier. Here are some of our findings but more information can be found in our Functional Layout of the Texas Instruments 45nm OMAP4430 Applications Processor report that is available now.
The OMAP4430 is the latest from the OMAP family of application processors by TI, manufactured at 45-nm CMOS process, the OMAP4430 features two cores based on the dual-core Cortex-A9 MP Core general purpose processors and features a clock speed of 1 GHz. Below are some images that we’ve taken from our early analysis of the standalone OMAP4430
The image on the left with the 2009 date in the die mark is the OMAP4430 that we examined in June, on the right is the die marking of the OMAP4430 that we analyzed in the Blackberry Playbook.
The image on the left with the is the OMAP4430 that we examined in June, on the right is the die photo of the OMAP4430 that we analyzed in the Blackberry Playbook. Notice the slight differences in the layout.
the areas in red are the embedded dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore with Symmetric Multiprocessing that TI mentions on their web page.