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.
quote: There's quite a bit of driver overhead in driving advanced HW acceleration like 3D graphics and video decode. That processing can be off loaded from the application processor.