Apple’s iPad is on the market (in the US at least), rivals from Notion Ink, Toshiba, HP and others are expected sometime this year; if you’re a manufacturer and want a tablet of your own then you need all the shortcuts you can get. SoC manufacturer Socle Technology have pitched up with GlobalFoundries 65nm chipset, an ARM Mali 3D GPU and full 1080p HD hardware decoding in their sPad A11 Design and Development platform. More complete and more powerful than Apple’s A4, so Socle say, the sPad A11 supports Android and other Linux platforms complete with 3D graphics and multitasking.
There are also onboard camera, Bluetooth, WiFi and memory controllers, and Socle already have a software reference design to go with the hardware. Unfortunately they’re not using the newer 28nm GlobalFoundries Cortex A9 chips, but as we’ve seen in the past ARM’s Mali GPUs are certainly capable of pushing out the high-def media many tablet users are looking for. We’re all for more challenges to the Tegra/Apple A4/Atom paradigm, especially if, as Socle suggest, the tablet platform will be more competitively priced and quicker to deploy.