Ryan Whitwam at ExtremeTech.com has written another insightful article on System Realization as it relates to the Google Nexus One smartphone’s supposed inability to run Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS), the latest and soon-to-be-introduced version of the Google Android OS. As Whitwam writes, it’s not necessarily the Qualcomm Scorpion, the Qualcomm-designed ARM Cortex-A8-like processor core that beats at 1GHz at the heart of the Qualcomm S1 Snapdragon mobile application processor. That clock rate’s still pretty darn respectable, especially considering that the SoC first shipped “way, way back” in 2009. More likely, writes Whitwam, Google’s Hugo Barra (Product Management Director for Android at Google) said that the Google Nexus One was too old to run ICS either because the Adreno 200 GPU (graphics processing unit) also on the Qualcomm Snapdragon S1 chip cannot deliver the necessary graphics performance (or perhaps hardware-assisted HD video decoding) or because of a lack of memory in the smartphone to accommodate the larger OS.
(For a good technical comparison between the 65nm Qualcomm S1 and subsequent versions of the Qualcomm Snapdragon mobile application processors, see “Qualcomm renames existing ARM-based Snapdragon mobile application processors and provides future roadmap”)
This excellent article quickly delivers a valuable lesson in System Realization: It’s not always about the processor. The entire system must provide a balanced hardware platform for software to shine, or perhaps even run. Technology moves on at an accelerated pace. That’s a sort of a mantra we repeat over and over but we sometimes fail to fully absorb its meaning.
You can read Whitwam’s article here.