By now I'm sure all of you have heard of the Rockchip RK2808, an HD video capable, ARM9-based processor coupled with a DSP that made its debut in the RAmos W7, and has since gone on to power a large number of tablets from manufacturers around the world, from Archos to Tongfang. Clocked at 600MHz and using the older ARM9 core, it was always intended for PMPs and MIDs at the cheaper end of the spectrum compared to the high-end currently dominated by ARM Cortex-A8 based chips and the Snapdragon.
An interesting new development has been reported by iMP3 saying that Rockchip is readying a new, much improved, high performance platform intended for MIDs called the Rockchip RK2818. Hitting the magic 1GHz number of other high-end mobile processors, it's currently uncertain exactly which core the new platform is using but it is sure to be using much newer technology. Other improvements include the use of DDR RAM over the old SDRAM, support for resolutions up to 1024×768 (up from WVGA), and most significantly, a design optimized to natively use Android 2.1 with support for Android 2.2. In comparison the RK2808 was originally designed to run Android 1.5. With plans for the new RK2818 to make its debut to manufacturers in August, possibly heralding a new wave of low cost, high performance tablets, one company has already stepped straight to the front of the queue with a product packing the new platform.
The ezGear SurfBoard 700 is a new 7-inch MID and so far the first to be powered by the 1GHz Rockchip RK2818. Keen-eyed readers might notice it looks almost identical to the Aigo 7007 prototype tablet previously featured on Pocketables that was using the old RK2808, so it may be a rebranded Aigo design being produced for ezGear, a US company. The new tablet runs Android 2.1 and includes a 7-inch WVGA touch screen, b/g WiFi, support for the usual wide range of video/audio codecs, 8GB local storage expandable by SD card (up to 32GB), a 2MP rear facing camera, 720p HD video playback capabilities, and an HDMI output. The SurfBoard also has a lighted trackball similar to the Nexus One and the usual array of stereo speakers, headphone out, and USB 2.0 ports including one supporting USB OTG. Battery life is rated at 20 hours during audio playback and 10 hours during video playback. Interestingly, access to Android Market is also mentioned in the SurfBoard's specs, although this can't be verified until the product ships. You can place a pre-order directly on the ezGear website with the tablet due to ship around September, but no final retail price is given.
News of the new Rockchip RK2818 processor is a positive development for the possibility of cheaper, high performance MIDs running Android 2.1/2.2, but I eagerly wait to find out the exact specifications of the core before making a final opinion on it and the ezGear SurfBoard 700. Share your impressions of this new processor and MID in the comments.[via Ubergizmo]