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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