ARM has announced a new processor aimed at mid-range smartphones, tablets and embedded systems: the Cortex-A17, with the first devices expected to appear before the end of the year.
ARM's new Cortex-A17 boasts a 60 per cent performance improvement over its predecessor the Cortex-A9.
The ARM Cortex-A17 is designed as a replacement for the Cortex-A9, a common sight in low-end to mid-range devices. According to ARM's internal testing, the new design offers a 60 per cent boost in performance while also improving energy efficiency over its predecessor. It also includes support for ARM's big.LITTLE architecture, which pairs high-power primary cores with a suite of lower-power secondary cores designed to take over when raw grunt isn't required. An ARM Mali-T720 graphics processor is also specced as an ideal partner in ARM's system-on-chip (SoC) design, with the company plugging the part as a winner for set-top boxes as well as battery-operated hardware.
'We expect to see a rich set of innovation in the mid-range mobile phone segmentm which is forecast to become a half a billion unit market annually from 2015m and the Cortex-A17 processor will be a key component in that growth,
' claimed Ian Ferguson, vice president of segment marketing, ARM. 'To date, the ARM Partnership has shipped more than 50 billion ARM-based chips and the continued broadening of our processor family will enable our partners to further optimise their offerings in existing and new product categories.
The first company to confirm availability of parts based on the design is MediaTek, which has come out of the gate with a promise of an eight-core 4G-enabled smartphone SoC in the first half of the year. The MediaTek MT6595, the company claims, boasts four Cortex-A17 cores alongside four Cortex-A7 cores in big.LITTLE configuration, a PowerVR Series 6 graphics processor, an integrated Long Term Evolution (LTE) modem with 150Mb/s downstream and 50Mb/s upstream support, and H.265 hardware video acceleration for up to Ultra HD (4K2K) video streams.
MediaTek is to begin shipping the SoC in the first half of this year, and predicts the first devices featuring the chip to appear before Christmas. ARM itself, meanwhile, doesn't expect to see shipping products from other hardware partners until early 2015.