Last week, several of our partners unveiled new Chrome OS devices powered by Cortex-A17 based processor. These new products include two Chromebooks from Haier and HiSense at very competitive low price, a convertible laptop-tablet called the Chromebook Flip and a brand new kind of HMDI dongle called Chromebit, both from Asus.
Following Cortex-A17’s top score in Antutu’s “Best Performance Android Smartphones 2014”, these new devices re-affirm the capabilities of Cortex-A17 CPU in combination with ARM Mali-T760 GPU, to provide a high-performance computing experience in devices such as tablets in highly cost-effective implementations.
The announcement of these new devices is a very good opportunity to review the characteristics of the Cortex-A17 that make it a success in many popular consumer products like smartphones, tablets and OTT devices that require highest performance in thermally constraint form factors.
Cortex-A17 is the third generation of ARMv7-A out-of-order processors, following successful products as Cortex-A9 and Cortex-A15. Cortex-A17 processor was designed to some very aggressive PPA goals, including:
This enables Cortex-A17 to provide best single thread performance for 32-bit application over any other ARMv7-A cores.
The single thread performance is critical for the user experience as it is at the heart of key applications like user interface and mostly web browsing. If Cortex-A17 and Cortex-A15 have similar SpecInt2k results, Cortex-A17 exceeds Cortex-A15 performance for web browsing, enabling the new Chrome OS devices to score better than previous 2014 successful devices.
Cortex-A17 achieves higher performance on benchmarks representative of today's complex and demanding real-world web applications running on mobile and desktop browsed such as kraken, octane, sunspider. This is achieved through a combination of design optimization, especially around memory system and streaming performance. These optimizations are designed in an optimal power and area profile to result into a better power efficiency. Better power efficiency allows sustaining maximum frequency before hitting thermal limits on the SoC and so directly translates into performance uplift. Area is also a significant part as it contributes to silicon cost as well as leakage power. The Cortex-A17 has been extensively tuned, and is considerably more area and power efficient than Cortex-A15 and similar to Cortex-A9.
This power efficiency enables our partners to optimize Cortex-A17, especially in a mature and cost efficient node like 28nm. The Cortex-A17 has broad support from ARM Physical IP in 28nm like ARM Artisan POP IP that allows system design with lowest risk and fast-time-to-market.
An optimized software ecosystem is fundamental for a great user experience. Today’s mobile world is based around the ARMv7-A architecture which supports over one million applications across many device categories. The Cortex-A17 processor leverages the popular applications and libraries that are specifically optimized for performance and efficiency on this architecture. New ecosystems around ARMv8-A are being built, and these complement the ARMv7-A ecosystem, particularly where a 64-bit instruction set is a necessity such as in server and enterprise applications.
We are very happy to see our partners introducing new innovative devices and enabling access to premium performance at a very attractive price. In the coming months, Cortex-A17 will continue to be at the heart of a great number of new mid-range devices while Cortex-A57 will power high-end products. It is today's choice for 32-bit devices that require highest performance in thermally constrained form factors. So we are expecting to see more and more Cortex-A17 devices from smartphone to Smart TV and set-top boxes, but also in key markets with similar technology constraints like home networking, industrial applications and high-end wearable.
Which new Cortex-A17 devices will your imagination build ?