Freescale's I.MX508 Chip Will Make E-Ink Readers Way Cheaper

The silicon inside 90 per cent of ereaders out there is made by Freescale, and their new chip, the i.MX508 - based on an ARM Cortex A8 (sorta like the iPad!) - will make them cheaper, and page turns four times faster.

The chip's a custom SoC that integrates the functions from multiple chips into one - specifically, the E-Ink hardware display controller - along with that Cortex A8, which gives the readers enough juice to turn pages in half a second, versus the two seconds that's typical now. All while cutting costs by $US30 a unit. Freescale wagers that with the cost savings, it could drive ereaders to under $US150 by the end of the year. (Though that in part depends on how much the E-Ink displays themselves are going to continue to cost.)

An E-Ink reader that costs $US150 would definitely look more attractive as a dedicated long-reading device against an iPad that does lots of things on top of reading - and has those fancy digital magazines - than the ones that more like $US260 today. Then again, Amazon's working on a full-colour multitouch Kindle with Wi-Fi, if that tells you anything about the future of E-Ink readers. In the meantime, I'm all for cheaper. [Freescale via Bloomberg via Digital Daily]

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