Chinese Version 中文版:引发下一次移动计算革命-ARMv8 SoC处理器

I recently had the opportunity to reflect on the mobile computing revolution of the last five years. I use the term 'mobile computing' deliberately - the compute tasks we handle on mobile phones today directly rival those that were only possible on laptops and desktops several years ago. With uninterrupted direct supply from the wall, laptop and desktop PCs needed fan assisted cooling, and their architecture is designed around that capacity. Today, mobile devices run similarly demanding workloads for a full day (or more) on a single charge and serve as communications hub, entertainment center, game console, and mobile workstation. The architecture of ARM®  based mobiles devices is and has always been designed around the mobile footprint. Continuing to improve the user experience in that footprint requires commitment to deliver the most out of each milliwatt and every millimeter of Silicon.


The success of smartphones and tablets and the software app economy (worth $27 bn and growing) is largely based on SoCs (System-on-Chips) from ARM Partners. Mobile SoCs balance ever-increasing performance with form factor, battery life and price point across an incredibly diverse range of consumers.
Most of them to date have been based on the ARMv7-A architecture, accounting for 95% share of the growing smartphone market. The growing app ecosystem ( with over 40bn downloads ) has been largely designed and coded specifically for the ARM architecture resulting in a vast application base. We are now at the transition point to ARMv8-A, the next generation in efficient computing.

 

2014 will see the arrival of numerous devices featuring the latest ARMv8-A architecture, opening the door for developers, while retaining 100% compatibility with the vast app ecosystem based on 32-bit ARMv7.  It is great to finally be at a point where the first ARMv8 mobile SoCs are coming to the market, and it is particularly positive that some of the upcoming SoCs employ ARM big.LITTLE®  technology,  which combines the high-performance CPUs and high-efficiency CPUs in one processing sub-systems, capable of both 32-bit and 64-bit operation while dynamically moving  workloads to the right size processor and saving upwards of 50% of the energy.


Qualcomm® recently announced their Snapdragon® 810 processor which uses four Cortex®-A57 cores and four Cortex-A53 cores in a big.LITTLE configuration, and the Snapdragon 808 processor which uses two Cortex®-A57 cores and four Cortex-A53 cores, again in a big.LITTLE configuration. These processors are expected to be available in commercial devices by the first half of 2015 and will feature 64-bit ARMv8 support for Android. We have been working together with teams from Qualcomm Technologies and other ecosystem partners for several to ensure that OEMs and OS providers are able to take full advantage of the ARMv8-A Architecture, ensuring that they can rely on the same design philosophy that has made ARMv7-A based Snapdragon processors so successful in the multiple segments of the mobile market.

 

My colleague  James Bruce and I recently collaborated with our counterparts at Qualcomm in writing a paper that delves further into ARMv8-A and explains the journey of bringing an ARMv8 SoC to market - I recommend it for anyone seeking to better understand the SoC design process and mobile processor market space.

 

The white paper (which you will find below) dispels a few myths about ARMv8-A (it's more than just 64 bit, it doesn't double code size, etc.) and outlines the approach one ARM partner takes in combining ARM IP with in-house IP to build a product line ranging from premium smartphone and tablets down to low-cost smartphone tiers for emerging markets.

 

The first half of the paper offers some useful insights into the mobile market, how ARM competes in the market, how Android is delivered on ARM platforms, and the benefits of the latest ARM Cortex-A processors and ARMv8 instruction set architecture.  The second half of the paper dives a bit deeper into Qualcomm's approach to delivering a complete SoC, combining in-house designed components with ARM IP, then optimizing the whole platform. It discusses Qualcomm's use of Cortex-A57 and Cortex-A53 along with big.LITTLE technology in the announced Snapdragon 808 and 810 SoCs, as well as their use of custom-designed CPUs, GPUs, and other components in the Snapdragon product line.

 

The ready availability of ARM IP and the flexibility of the ARM business model provide the freedom to mix and match and the opportunity to rapidly innovate which have been a big factor in enabling ARM partners like Qualcomm to be so successful in the smartphone and mobile computing revolution.