Could ARM Solve Google TV’s Price Problem?


Chip designer ARM Holdings (s ARMH) is reportedly in talks with Google (s GOOG) 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 (s SNE) and Logitech (s LOGI) have required Intel (s INTC) 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 (s AAPL) 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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Ashu Joshi

Given that GoogleTV uses Chrome browsers, and supports Flash 10.x – the processing requirement is significantly higher. Using ARM cores (even A9) to process Flash 10.x rendering on a small screen such as a Galaxy S tablet or a Android phone requires less processing power compared to rendering on a TV. Not to mention that GTV does some additional processing due to its HDMI In & Out. In short, the ARM chips to be used would require tons of processing horsepower and even then ensure that the software works well. Unless of course Google does an Apple by removing the Flash 10.x requirement :-)

Mark R

So the Boxee costs $100 less yet uses the same exact CE platform from Intel that the Revue uses. Perhaps instead of switching to ARM, Google should switch to Google and cut out all the profit-making box people. It’s a techie product anyway, just sell it directly to techies.

Jon Smirl

Duh! Did you see the size of heat sink in the Sony TV tear down? I can’t believe Samsung is going to use an Intel CPU when they are an ARM licensee and make their own CPUs. They is no compelling reason for GoogleTV to be x86 based other than the fact Intel wrote most of it and gave the code to Google.

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