Frustrating isn't it? You're using your new smartphone or tablet to view pages on the Internet, watch a video or get the latest traffic information and the mobile communications just can't handle it. You look at your screen and see a little symbol showing that the signal is dropping in and out of 2G, 3G or HSPA 3.5G connections, and then the device gives up altogether. Unfortunately this scenario is still all too common because despite having the latest applications processor, graphics and software in your phone, we still often have to rely on patchy, low data-rate wireless coverage.
But all this is changing with the advent of new 4G LTE and LTE-Advanced communications which cellular operators are now busy deploying, and our ARM® Cortex®-R real-time processors are powering the latest wireless modem chips in your handset to deliver data faster and more reliably. Take, for example, the new Samsung Exynos Modem which has just been announced. The Exynos Modem 300 series use a Cortex®-R to run the 4G-LTE software protocols and manage signal processing for transmitting and receiving data. In fact, the Exynos Modems aren't the only ones using a Cortex-R for this task; there are hundreds of millions of similar chips in phones and tablets already in use throughout the world.
Cortex-R processors are often hidden from view in applications like this, running underlying communications and control tasks in applications ranging from flash memory or hard disc storage to automotive braking, steering or instrument clusters. Designers choose a Cortex-R processor because its microarchitecture and memory system are specifically designed for these tasks where lots of hard real-time events must be serviced within micro-seconds to maintain accurate control and signal processing.
However, technology marches on and the next generation of wireless modems will soon deliver even higher data rates of 300 Mbits per second or more and support so-called ‘carrier aggregation’ which lets wireless operators use a mix of different frequencies to reach all the devices connecting to a cell. This will provide even more reliable communications and it enables operators to make best use of their precious wireless spectrum allocation. Of course this requires yet more real-time processing throughput and the latest Cortex-R7 real-time processor fits the bill here, without increasing the energy consumption for battery-powered devices. Modems for this have been developed and are currently in silicon and going through the testing and approvals process which they must pass before they're allowed to connect to the cellular network. I’m looking forward to getting my next 4G phone in 2015 that will have one inside.
Thanks for reading. Chris Turner
It's February 2016 and we've progressed to Cortex-R8 and LTE-Advanced Pro.
See ARM Cortex-R8 paves way to LTE-Advanced Pro and 5G