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ARM details Cortex A15 chip

ARM details Cortex A15 chip

ARM's Cortex A15, the chip formerly known as Eagle, has a definite whiff of 'server' about it.

ARM has released details of the 28nm Cortex processor it recently taped out at GlobalFoundries, and it's a pretty impressive piece of kit.

The chip, which ditches the Eagle name in favour of the more professional Cortex A15 MPCore Processor moniker, will be licensed to customers immediately for production in 32nm and 28nm variants at speeds of up to 2.5GHz - but let's look at something we didn't know.

First up is a raft of new features over existing Cortex A-series CPUs: the hardware virtualisation extensions have been on the cards for a while, but the soft-error recovery, Long Physical Address Extensions (LPAE) support for addressing memory locations up to 1TB and SMP cluster coherency functionality all point to the fact that this chip will be heading to many-core servers as well as slates, tablets, and smartphones.

While it was previously thought that the 2.5GHz processor would only be available in a dual-core version, ARM has confirmed that the Cortex A15 will be available in single- to quad-core variants "within a single processor cluster."

Other new features include support for Thumb-2, which the company claims "delivers the peak performance of traditional ARM code while also providing up to a 30 per cent reduction in memory required to store instructions," NEON Advanced SIMD for multimedia functionality, and the Jazelle RCT, which provides a three-fold reduction in code size for bytecode languages.

Full details of the new processor for the technically minded can be found over on the ARM website.

ARM's latest chip certainly shows that the company is looking outside of its traditional market, and with server manufacturers increasingly looking towards many-core low-power solutions for the requirements of cloud computing clusters, it could spell trouble for Intel.

Do you think that ARM's latest processor is everything you dreamed it could be, or does LPAE support still not make up for a 32-bit heart? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

4 Comments

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TomH 9th September 2010, 20:09 Quote
I'm glad to see ARM taking this step forward. This can only lead to good things - namely, more competition and more processing cores per rack (important, when you're Facebook et al).

64-bit will come in time. This sounds like it'll be a great first-generation product.
Phalanx 9th September 2010, 21:38 Quote
I think they'll fail simply because it's not 64-bit. If they're aiming for the big guns, then 64-bit is a must. Larger companies will see this and not buy it because of it (I know our company won't recommend it to people we consult for), and then ARM will not make a 64-bit because their first didn't sell well.

I hope I'm wrong, I truly do, but I feel I might be on the right track.
Gareth Halfacree 9th September 2010, 22:56 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ph4lanx
I think they'll fail simply because it's not 64-bit. If they're aiming for the big guns, then 64-bit is a must. Larger companies will see this and not buy it because of it (I know our company won't recommend it to people we consult for), and then ARM will not make a 64-bit because their first didn't sell well.
I dunno - I mean, I can see the argument, but the people buying an ARM-based server have already made a concious effort to move away from x86. A move from 64-bit x86 to 32-bit ARM with LPAE is not likely to be much more complicated than a move from 64-bit x86 to 64-bit ARM (if such a thing existed.)
iwod 10th September 2010, 05:37 Quote
I dont see why you would need 64bit on servers apart from Memory requirement. In terms of TCO, i actually think ARM is well fitted for Server Operation.
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