The Tech Herald

big.LITTLE: ARM officially unveils Cortex A7

by Steven Mostyn - Oct 20 2011, 17:07

ARMed and dangerous. Image: ARM.

With NVIDIA making significant strides in the smartphone industry via its Tegra processing platform, fellow chip-making specialist ARM has this week unveiled its next mobile offering.

Described as “the latest processor in our applications processor range” by ARM’s Tom Cronk during a briefing in London, the new Cortex A7 chip (a.k.a. ‘Kingfisher’) is set to arrive as a marked improvement over the existing Cortex A8.

Specifically, ARM boasts that the A7 will deliver twice the performance and five times more energy efficiency than the A8. It will also be around 20 percent of its predecessor’s physical size thanks to the use of 28nm fabrication.

“[The A7] has been developed without compromise for really moving the bounds of what’s achievable in terms of energy efficiency,” enthused Cronk

In terms of effect for the end user, the A7’s emergence should result in the creation of sub-$100 USD smartphone devices in 2013 that will have the performance of today’s $500 USD smartphones.

In related news, ARM also used the event to reveal a concept plan that could see two separate Cortex chips eventually carried by cutting-edge mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers.

The “big.LITTLE” idea put forth by ARM outlines that upcoming smartphones could use an energy efficient A7 chip for general “always on” usage, while a more muscular platform—such as the new Cortex A15—would carry the multimedia burden.

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