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Release fills the gap between A9 and A15

While many high-end smartphones and tablets may soon be getting ARM Cortex-A15 MPCORE processors, ARM Holdings Plc (LON:ARMjust announced a mid-range target solution, the Cortex-A12.

The new CPU core design is meant to deliver a 40 percent performance bump over Cortex-A9 (released in 2008) designs.  It also includes an improved GPU, the Mali-T622, which packs support for the Mali-V500 video engine and OpenGL ES 3.0 standard.

Devices with Cortex-A12 cores are expected to ship by mid-2014.

ARM's chief marketing officer Ian Drew comments:

Mobile users expect a range of devices at different price points and for a mid-range mobile experience to include some high end mobile features. With a billion smartphones predicted to ship in 2013 and tablets projected to out-ship notebook PCs, device-makers can now provide quality, high-performance mobile products with the features that matter the most, at a range of price points.  The market is evolving at an amazing rate and there is now a choice of solutions for semiconductor companies and for mobile device-makers. Our suite of optimized IP expands the choice for the mid-range mobile market.

Targeting the 28-nm node (versus a 40 nm target for Cortex-A9), a Cortex-A12 die is expected to be 30 percent smaller than a Cortex-A9.  The new design, which supports four cores in its default configuration, will include ARM's big.LITTLE power-saving technology and new virtualization features.

Cortex A12

ARM is currently in a dogfight with Intel Corp. (INTC), the world's largest personal computer and server chipmaker.  Sensing a shift towards mobile -- a space currently ruled by ARM -- Intel is stepping up efforts for its Atom processor to compete with ARM chips in power and price, driven by industry-leading process technologies.  ARM, however, is fighting back looking to leverage advantages of its mobile-centric architecture to keep its x86 rival at bay.

Sources: ARM Holdings [1], [2]

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By misuspita on 6/4/2013 2:31:40 AM , Rating: 2
Is this a response from ARM because A15 has seen better performance, but worse power consumption and heat generation? I wonder if there was pressure from Qualcomm and all to get out a more frugal SoC architecture? Intel seems to really be getting closer, and the days of "free lunch"are approaching for ARM too...

RE: Pressure?
By retrospooty on 6/4/2013 9:16:34 AM , Rating: 3
Probably... The whole big.little thing seems like a waste to me. Why have 4 fast/high power cores that consume too much power and 4 slower/low power cores to do the medial tasks when the speed isn't needed? Why not just work on low power usage where the 4 cores are running at 1/2 or 1/4 speed with lower power until its needed? ARM, you better hurry, Intel just woke up and is coming after your business and their next mobile chip looks to be faster and more efficient than anything you have.

RE: Pressure?
By michael2k on 6/4/2013 9:51:02 AM , Rating: 2
Hurry up?

Merrifield won't be out until next year, and a 50% improvement over current Atom SoC.

The A15 at 20nm should be more than competitive with merrifield next year.

RE: Pressure?
By retrospooty on 6/4/2013 9:58:14 AM , Rating: 2
That is correct. If you were an ARM manufacturer, you dont want Intel joining the fight, and they just did. Next year, Intel has a viable chip. After that? Who knows. They have a process advantage (will be on 14nm when the rest of the ARM world is on 20nm. They have money, manufacturing capabilities and engineering talent that far out-do anyone else on Earth.

Yes, ARM had better hurry. It's not a 1 year race, its a long term thing and Intel isnt someone you want to go up against in that long fight.

RE: Pressure?
By retrospooty on 6/4/2013 10:03:07 AM , Rating: 2
This is what is breathing down ARM's neck...

What ARM should be worried about isnt the "next" chip, or the one after that, its the yearly refresh. Just ask AMD how fun it is to compete with Intel when they are focused on a specific market.

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