Freescale's i.MX508 Chip Will Make E-Ink Readers Way Cheaper and Turn Pages 4X Faster

The silicon inside 90 percent of ereaders out there is made by Freescale, and their new chip, the i.MX508—based on a ARM Cortex A8 (sorta like the iPad!)—will make them cheaper, and page turns 4x 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. As the first chip expressly designed for ereaders, it also strips out unnecessary features, so the net result for the ereader is that it's $30 cheaper a unit. Freescale wagers that with the cost savings, it could drive ereaders to under $150 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 $150 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 $260 today. Then again, Amazon's working on a full-color 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]