Can Samsung save GoogleTV with ARM processors?

February 27, 2011: 11:00 AM ET

ARM may be the only way for GoogleTV to get a foothold in the living room.

In November, Bloomberg issued a report saying that Samsung was going to be building GoogleTVs (GOOG), likely with Intel (INTC) chips.

That didn't make sense to me.  Samsung was developing its own high power chips that are almost as fast as the standard Intel Atom processors that are inside GoogleTVs, except they are based on the ARM architecture and are extremely low power and cheap to make.  GoogleTV is based on Android and Samsung's ARM chips have had a great deal of success in Android devices.  In fact, Samsung builds Apple's (AAPL) ARM-based A4 chip which has seen considerable success in mobile devices, but also AppleTV.  Here were my observations at the time:

  • Recent reports have Orions powering Samsung phones due at the beginning of next year.
  • GoogleTV runs on Android 2.1 and Android runs really well on Samsung's processors (seen the Galaxy S sales figures?).  Samsung's new Dual Core Orion chips, expected in phones in H1 2011 would be a perfect fit.  ARM processors are cheaper (especially for Samsung), run cooler (no fans needed) and use much less electricity.  Those are also differentiators that consumers can appreciate.
  • Apple's AppleTV runs on a Samsung-built ARM Cortex A8 processor that also live inside the iPad and iPhone.  Smartphone processors perform very well in smart HDTVs.
  • Orion Processors can deliver multiple 1080P video streams and what better way to showcase its new processors than have them in a high end HDTV?

Samsung does use Intel chips for some of its Windows laptops. But overall, its own chips are way more suited to running a set top box than Intel's.

Today, Bloomberg did a follow up story saying that it believed that Samsung was in fact going to use its own chips for th GoogleTV.

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