ARM unveils super efficient Cortex A7, will be paired with A15

By on October 20, 2011, 8:30 AM

ARM has unveiled a new chip that will enable more efficient and affordable mobile processors. Based on the company's 28nm fabrication, the Cortex A7 reportedly consumes five times less power and measures one-fifth the size of the 45nm Cortex A8, which is used inside the Apple A4, Samsung Hummingbird and Texas Instruments OMAP3. ARM will compliment that efficiency by pairing the Cortex A7 with quicker, more power hungry processing cores.

Additionally, the A7 will make it easier to produce sub-$100 smartphones, which will boost adoption rates in developing regions. "We can see the developed world moving on and mobile being the nexus for all sort of consumer electronics. In the Bric countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) we are seeing catch-up," ARM CEO Warren East told the BBC. "As we look forward these smartphones are going to be totally ubiquitous and in the much less developed areas..."

The company's heterogeneous "Big.LITTLE" design concept will see the Cortex A7 packaged with the upcoming Cortex A15 as a system-on-a-chip that will allocate tasks to the best available core. The A7 will compute lighter loads while the A15 will tackle requests that are more intensive. It's worth noting that the efficiency gains mentioned above are specifically limited to the A7 so it's unclear what you can expect from this package as a whole, but it should be awesome.

The A15 was announced last September and is expected to ship sometime in early 2012. It will be offered in various flavors with clock speeds up to 2.5GHz and it's said to deliver 40% more performance than the A9. Several licensees have already announced next-generation SoCs based on the A15, including Nvidia's fourth-gen Tegra "Wayne," Texas Instruments' OMAP 5 and ST-Ericsson's Nova A9600. Samsung, LG, Apple and others will undoubtedly utilize A15 cores as well.

User Comments: 3

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Wagan8r Wagan8r said:

Kal-El uses Cortex-A9 cores. I think you meant Tegra 4 (Wayne).

Also, I find this interesting since Kal-El uses a similar approach, albeit with a lower clocked 5th A9 core.

lawfer, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Are these SoC named after Superman and Batman? Kal-el, and Bruce Wayne? If so, that's pretty cool. I always knew the codename of Tegra 3, but just now it hit me. I know, I know, shame on me.

And yeah, Tegra 3 uses five cortex A9 cores, with the fifth one lower clocked. I believe the A15 uses a much lower semiconductor than the A9, possibly the same as the A7 (28nm); the A9 uses a 40nm semiconductor, which is more efficient than the A8, but presumably still not as fast/efficient as the A7 and the future A15. So it's definitely Tegra 4 that uses A15.

Jos Jos said:

Thanks for the heads up, the story has been updated with the correct info.

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