You know all those cheap Android tablets coming out of China and starting to show up in US discount stores? Most of them are equipped with low power ARM-based chips from Rockchip or VIA. The VIA WM8505 was one of the standard bearers… there’s just one problem: The 600MHz chip simply couldn’t handle anything above Android 1.6.

Now VIA has launched a WM8650 chip which supports Google Android 2.1. While this low power chip still has a 600MHz clock speed, it supports 720p HD video playback thanks to hardware acceleration.

The WM8650 is an ARM11-based chip, and it’s not going to give the latest chips from Qualcomm, Samsung, or NVIDIA any competition when it comes to overall performance. But it could make those dirt cheap Chinese tablets a little better.

via MP4 Nation

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5 replies on “VIA WM8650 to power up cheap Android tablets (a bit)”

  1. It is interesting that while Android 2.2 gives so much better execution of applications (due to its Dalvik JIT compiler) still all of the low-end producers stick to 1.6.

    Probably due to RAM requirements or ARM architecture requirements. Possibly 2.2 works only on the new, ARMv7 architecture.

  2. The problem is that such low power processors like ARM11 based Via ones simply don’t have enough computing power for anything you would expect on a tablet. Flash is out of the question and I don’t think that even acceptable-speed web browsing is possible on JavaScrip-heavy, AJAX-heavy websites (all of the popular websites).Anything below dual-core Cortex-A9 at 1Ghz with 512Mb of RAM will likely disappoint on a tablet (you expect much less on a smartphone). Android is not that much optimized that it could work well below this.I believe only Tegra2, OMAP4, Marwell628 class products will be really successful with Android. Those are powerful enough to run a proper desktop Linux when paired with 1GB of speedy RAM.

  3. OK… so we live in an era during which we blame the software when it’s the hardware’s fault (I’m looking at you, Windows 7 “tablet” haters) and we blame the hardware when it’s the software’s fault (I’m looking at you Android fanboys).

    A processor this powerful is just fine with a good operating system (like Debian). A processor LESS powerful (arm9) is just fine with a good operating system. Unfortunately, Android is not a good operating system, but it is popular. That seems to be the current trend in technology: low quality, low cost, low value, high popularity, in the best interest of the vendor and not the consumer…In other words, consumer technology has matured into a “normal” industry.

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