Freescale Introduces Faster, Cheaper eReader Chip

Today, Freescale Semiconductor, whose chips are inside the Kindle, Sony Reader and iRex, among others, unveiled it’s newest chip: the i.MX508. Without getting mind-numbingly technical, this processor, which was developed by Freescale in partnership with E-Ink and with feedback from customers, will enable eReaders that are cheaper, faster, and have longer battery life.

According to data Freescale used in developing the chip, the most desired feature for eReaders is still longer battery life. The chip has special power modes that allow the processor to turn on full power to process a page turn, then use less power as the rest of the eReader catches up, then shut off while reading a page.

eBookNewser talked to Eric Braddom, who handles PR at Freescale, this morning. He said that the i.MX508 will bring down the cost of eReaders, but that for it to get below the $99 mark, device makers will have to create savings on other components–the chip, Braddom said, is the 3rd most expensive part of an E-Ink device, after the screen and wireless radio.

The chip is designed to power the next generation of E-Ink devices, which Braddom said will include popular features like dual-screens, one E-Ink and one LCD, like the Nook and Alex. Both screens could be powered by the new Freescale chip.

The chip debuts today, though it’s not available to manufacturers yet. Braddom said the earliest we might see new devices with the chip is Christmas 2010, with more to come in 2011.