It’s the chip that powers the latest wonder-gadget from Google but until now, little was known about Marvell’s 88DE3005-A1 SoC CPU. We still don’t know all that much about it but now, Marvell has decided to give it an easier-to-remember name – Marvell Armada 1500-mini.
Apart from that, Marvell is playing things pretty close with no new information in its press release or website about the CPU itself – ARM architecture, GPU core, RAM/flash support etc – little other than it’s ‘optimized to support 1080p content, it has a high security grade that enables multiple DRM solutions like Widevine and Playready.’
According to Marvell, the Armada 1500-mini ‘implements sophisticated high quality audio, video, and graphics capabilities, while being extremely energy efficient because the platform facilitates form factors, such as a dongle, that are USB powered.’
Google launched its $35 Chromecast dongle featuring the Marvell Armada 1500-mini last week to immediate fanfare, mating the chip with 512MB of RAM and 2GB of flash. Rather than being preloaded with an embedded version of Google’s Chrome OS, hackers who have managed to gain root access to the device believe its actually closer to Android than Chrome OS. That raises questions on whether other mini PCs running Android will be able to fill this role through an Android app.
The only other notable chip found during iFixit’s Chromecast teardown was Azurewave’s AW-NH387 Wi-Fi/Bluetooth/FM radio chip. What remains to be seen is how much of Marvell’s DRM solutions are hardwired into the SoC CPU and how much are kernel add-ons that can be incorporated into other SoC CPUs. While Google appears to have released the Chromecast software to open-source, there are said to be still kernel files required from Marvell in order to recreate a Chromecast dongle.
Looks like we might have to wait a bit longer before we see Chromecast clones hit the market.
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