Marvell (NASDAQ:MRVL) is fueling the next generation of Google TVs with a new, ARM-based chip system, which the semiconductor maker will formally introduce at the 2012 Consumers Electronics Show next week.
The chipmaker told eWEEK its Foresight Platform, powered by the Marvell Armada 1500 HD Media System-on-a-Chip (SoC), will appear on smart TVs, set-top boxes and Blu-ray players this year.
The Armada 1500 includes a dual-core CPU Marvell claims provides processing power on par with PCs to support Web browsing, Flash and other multimedia software.
Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) Atom chips powered the first Google TV systems, including the Logitech Revue companion box and Sony Internet TVs and Blu-ray players, when they launched more than a year ago. Google TV systems enable users to access Netflix, YouTube and other applications from their TVs.
"Google TV represents a very high-profile kind of smart TV, and we're proud to be a part of it," said Wilfred Martis, general manager of the digital home group at Intel, at the Connections conference in June 2010.
However, Google TV systems failed to sell well and Intel said last October it would no longer provide chips for Google TV or any living room systems. In November, Logitech ceased making its Revue boxes.
Recognizing an opportunity, Marvell stepped in with its Foresight Platform and Armada chip system. The chip system, which uses Marvell's Qdeo video processing software for providing better 3D video and graphics, has been baked into Google TV systems launching at CES next week.
Google confirmed it is working with Marvell in a statement.
"The Google and Marvell teams have been working closely together to bring our combined software and chipset technologies to market to grow the Google TV ecosystem of manufacturers and devices," said Mario Queiroz, vice president of product management at Google TV. "Marvell-powered Google TV solutions will enable powerful products to be brought to market at attractive prices."
It's unclear yet what those prices will be, but lower cost Google TV systems will be crucial to the success of the platform. The Revue costs $299 at launch and was later dropped to $249 and finally $99.
Sony and other TV makers such as Vizio, Samsung and others are reportedly still on board with Google TV. These set makers may launch Google TV products powered by Marvell chips at CES this year.
The combination of the latest Marvell processor systems with Google's current Android 3.1 Honeycomb build for Google TV could provide a potent, one-two punch for consumers. The Honeycomb-flavored platform includes access to Google's Android Market, which includes dozens of apps for the TV screen.
The new Marvell Google TV systems can't come too soon for Google, which is expected to face competition in the Web TV space from Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) in 2012. Moreover, Microsoft's Xbox 360 gaming platform includes voice search capabilities.