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ARM A9  (Source: CNET News)
A9 can go all the way up to quad-core for smartphones

The smartphone world is filled with handsets running ARM processors. Many of the most popular smartphones around including the iPhone 3G S and the new Palm Pre run ARM-based processors. A new ARM processor architecture is due to hit next year that will greatly increase the performance that smartphones offer.

The new processor is the ARM Cortex-A9. The current Cortex-A8 used on devices like the Palm Pre and is a single-core processor. The A9 set to debut early in 2010 is a dual-core processor. ARM says that while the new A9 architecture is a dual-core chip, it will still offer users increased battery life in daily usage compared to current single-core ARM processors.

The reason the processor can offer significantly higher performance and still give better battery life is due to the construction of the new A9. The A9 will be built using a 45nm process whereas the current A8 uses a 65nm process.

ARM wireless segment manager James Bruce told CNET News, "You'll definitely see handsets shipping with a dual-core A9 in 2010." He continues saying, "the A8 is just a single core while the A9 will be dual-core, all the way up to quad-core to give smartphones an even bigger performance boost."

The new A9 processor operates inside the 300-milliwatt power envelope that is the golden rule in the mobile phone industry. By comparison, the wildly popular Intel Atom processor needs 2,000 milliwatts, but future Atom versions codenamed Moorestown will bring Atom power levels to the realm of smartphone usability.

Other than performance improvements of compared to that of the A8, the A9 will also allow smartphones to support 1080p video along with HD video recording and playback.



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RE: multicore
By TomZ on 6/16/2009 1:16:41 PM , Rating: 3
Even though the iPhone only allows one application to be active at a time, there are lots of operating system tasks that are also active. For example, networking, call management, etc. Therefore, the iPhone and its OS is already multitasking (time-slicing in that case), even though the user is constrained to just use one app at a time. And whether those multiple tasks are assigned to one core or multiple cores is mostly a performance question.


RE: multicore
By omnicronx on 6/16/2009 1:30:39 PM , Rating: 3
How much overhead do you really think these operating system tasks require though? So of course they could make use of it, but will it result in an increase in speed? I have my doubts.

I think my real question here is, how will this affect Apple going forward? All of the big 4 (let alone Apple) are going to have trouble going forward with their apps stores and compatibility between devices. Will Apple be forced to take the approach of Google, and have version specific applications? Or will Apple merely not allow multi threaded applications and have their own form of load balancing to deal with new devices that are multicore?

I'm just wondering that's all.. I'm really interesting on how all four App stores will deal with this.


RE: multicore
By TomZ on 6/16/2009 1:34:32 PM , Rating: 3
I'm not sure what you're getting at. Does iPhone prohibit multi-threaded apps? I thought the restriction was one app at a time. Multi-threaded apps will just run faster with multiple cores, that's all. That's the same as we have with desktop PCs.

One thing that will be interesting, I can guarantee, is that if you develop a multi-threaded app on a single core machine, then later run it on a multi-core machine, you are probably going to find threading bugs in your original code.


RE: multicore
By omnicronx on 6/16/2009 3:33:29 PM , Rating: 2
Misinformation on my part =/ I thought the iPhone did prohibit multithreaded apps, which never made sense to me.

I noticed that a lot of iPhone devs make use of asynchronous thread calls and i figured it was because of some kind of limitation with multithreading.
quote:
One thing that will be interesting, I can guarantee, is that if you develop a multi-threaded app on a single core machine, then later run it on a multi-core machine, you are probably going to find threading bugs in your original code.
Without a doubt.. I remember having to set the processor affinity on many Windows apps when dualcore was first released because of the reasons you described.


RE: multicore
By cparka23 on 6/16/2009 5:40:33 PM , Rating: 2
The processor uses an in-order architecture. Adding an extra core will probably do more to prevent bottlenecks than multithreading alone.


RE: multicore
By omnicronx on 6/16/2009 8:15:43 PM , Rating: 2
No, its not.. Unlike its predecessors, the Cortex A9 is an out of order processor and from what I have read, it does so very aggressively.


"I mean, if you wanna break down someone's door, why don't you start with AT&T, for God sakes? They make your amazing phone unusable as a phone!" -- Jon Stewart on Apple and the iPhone

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