Could ARM Solve Google TV’s Price Problem?


Chip designer ARM Holdings is reportedly in talks with Google to enable its TV platform to run on cheaper ARM-based chips. That could help Google TV with one of its main problems: The devices are plagued by a price premium due to the cost of hardware necessary to run the platform.

Up until now, Google TV-powered TVs, Blu-ray players and broadband set-top boxes sold by Sony and Logitech have required Intel Atom processors and dedicated SDRAM to power the OS. The added cost of materials from those components has led to some significant price premiums for Google TV devices, with TVs and Blu-ray players from Sony listed for hundreds of dollars more than comparable models, and the Logitech Revue set-top box, priced at $299, costs $200 more than the Apple TV and Roku boxes, and $100 more than D-Link’s Boxee Box.

At a technology conference late last week, ARM president Tudor Brown told an audience that his company was in talks with Google to embed Google TV technology on its chip technology. “We are talking to Google, but we have nothing to announce right now,” Brown said. Having ARM on board could benefit Google and its CE partners, in part because ARM chips generally cost less and require less power than comparable Intel Atom processors.

Low cost and power consumption are just a few reasons why most Android smartphones are based on ARM-based processors as opposed to Intel chipsets. And the fact that ARM is tightly integrated with Android could also be a plus for ARM, as Google TV is based on Android 2.1. The availability of a lower-cost processor to run Google TV on devices won’t just help get more CE manufacturers on board, but with the possibility of lower-priced Google TV devices, it could go a long way toward driving more consumer adoption.

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