It’s clear that quad-core ARM based chips are here for the long haul and with tablet/notebook hybrids running Windows 8 in the pipeline, the demand is only going to increase. Currently, ARM’s Cortex A-15 based processor sits happily in Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 SoC and while it had plenty of power, it’s not very power efficient. Despite being built on the 28nm fabrication process, it’s still very taxing on the battery. ARM has addressed that issue with the unveiling of their new Cortex A-15 variant that is based on their Hard Macro implementation. These versions are locked down by ARM and do not allow SoC manufacturers to tweak the architecture while implementing it. While this may seem as a bit of a disadvantage, it actually allows ARM to lock down the power requirement allowing them to guarantee even performance across devices. This also means that manufacturers need not spend time tweaking the chip to get a better battery life as it will be taken care of by ARM.
Better chips for cheaper phones
The Coretex-A15 chips using Hard Macros will allow ARM to clock four cores at 2GHz and beyond, while still maintaining a decent battery life. The low leakage implementation, featuring integrated NEON SIMD technology and floating point (VFP), delivers a balance of performance and power and is ideal for a wide array of high-performance computing applications for products from notebooks to power-efficient, extreme performance-orientated network and enterprise devices.The current version of Hard Macro chips includes Coretex-A5, which is a single core and Coretex-A9, which is a dual-core. These chips are expected to start shipping at the end of 2012 so we could expect mobile devices and notebook PCs in early 2013 to feature them. ARM is also expected to reveal more details on their chips at the IEEE symposium in Yokohama.
While smartphones may not need quad-core chips for a long time, notebook manufacturers looking to develop cheap Windows 8 based machines will certainly be eyeing it. If ARM manages to get a good yield out of the new chips then they will automatically be cheaper to produce and since the chips already come pre-configured, companies like Qualcomm, Nvidia and Ti OMAP have their work cut out for them when it comes to bundling it in an SoC.
Published Date: Apr 18, 2012 09:23 am | Updated Date: Apr 18, 2012 09:23 am