Google TV ditches Intel for ARM

Google TV is jumping from x86 to ARM-based chipsets, in the hope of reducing power consumption, noise and price of the set-top boxes, after the first generation of the platform failed to set the smart TV world alight. Chipset manufacturer Marvell has announced that its ARMADA 1500 HD "Foresight" SoC will be at the heart of the new Google TV STBs, an HD/3D capable chip that can simultaneously decode two 1080p streams in addition to performing SD-to-HD upscaling.

"The Google and Marvell teams have been working closely together to bring our combined software and chipset technologies to market to grow the Google TV ecosystem of manufacturers and devices. Marvell-powered Google TV solutions will enable powerful products to be brought to market at attractive prices" Mario Queiroz, VP, Product Management Google TV

Perhaps best of all for a living room device, the ARMADA 1500 HD-based boxes will be fanless, using passive cooling systems rather than noisy spinning fans. That should answer one of the complaints about the original Logitech Revue, which was based on an Intel x86 chipset and required active cooling; not something you'd notice in the middle of a loud action film, but a distraction when you're trying to concentrate on something quieter.

Altogether, it's enough for the sort of YouTube, Netflix, Pandora, Skype and Picasa accessing smart TV functionality Google TV has been promising all along, with a combination of IPTV internet playback and search overlaid onto traditional cable and other broadcast content. Google recently unveiled Google TV v2.0, this time based on Android Honeycomb, with a pared down UI and access to the Android Market for TV-compatible apps.

Google chairman Eric Schmidt said last year that he expects Google TV to be on the majority of new TVs by the summer of 2012, an ambitious promise that requires low-cost chipsets and broad manufacturer adoption in order to achieve. With Intel's platform falling short on both those counts – prompting the company to step back from TV chipsets altogether - it turns to ARM to do the same for smart TV as it has done in the smartphone and tablet world. We're expecting to see plenty more on Google TV on ARM at CES 2012 next week!