Introducing ARM Cortex-A17 – a New Performance Point in Mid-range Mobile

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We live in a mobile world – A world where people connect from wherever they are and whenever they want to everything that matters in their lives. ARM has been part of this mobile world since its beginnings, and provided solutions that have enabled billions of people to live their mobile future. Today, your primary computing device is no longer a chunky piece of equipment that looks as boring from the outside as it is power-hungry on the inside. Currently more than 95 percent of all mobile devices are based on ARM technology – with product lines ranging from Premium to Mid-range down to Entry-level products, ARM covers the whole range of mobile solutions that fulfill the needs of consumers today and tomorrow.

We’ve experienced an immense growth in mobile over the last few years, particularly in the entry-level and mid-range market. The industry expects continued growth in demand due to growing demographics in regions such as Eastern Europe, APAC and Latin America. Over 500M mid-range devices are expected to be shipped by 2015, and it is projected that this market will exceed the number of premium smartphones and tablets over the next two years. Part of that massive mid-range growth is based on the ARM Cortex®-A9 processor, the most popular Cortex processor in smartphones today, with over 1B units across all markets shipped since its introduction in 2008. Just last year, ARM introduced the follow-on to the Cortex-A9, the soon-to-be-shipped Cortex-A12 processor. This was the first solution specifically targeting the mid-range. Today, let me introduce you to the next mid-range solution that will help fulfill the future needs of this growing market segment.

ARM and its partners are focused on expanding the mobile experience further by introducing an enhanced suite of higher performance and more efficient products targeted at the mid-range market. This suite includes the Cortex-A17 processor, the Mali™-T720 GPU, the Mali-DP500 and Mali-V500 multimedia engines and optimized 28nm Artisan® POP™ IP. This refreshed IP suite stretches across the overall SoC and hence all of them translate into a further enhanced user experience for you, and more battery life for your mobile device – who wouldn't want that, right?

Well, lets go into more details about the Cortex-A17 processor: It’s the most efficient mid-range mobile solution for smartphones and tablets ARM has ever delivered, essentially delivering a new mid-range performance point for 2015 (and beyond) that matches today’s high-end phones and tablets at a mid-range price point. Cortex-A17 provides 60 percent higher performance than the Cortex-A9 and by using big.LITTLE™ technology Cortex-A17 can be paired with the Cortex-A7 processor for full system coherency.

The combination of Cortex-A17 and the ARM Mali multimedia suite results in an enriched offering for mid-range mobile and other consumer devices such as smart TVs and Over-the-Top media devices. Complemented by ARM CoreLink™ and CoreSight™ System IP, Cortex-A17 and its companion products result in the next-generation SoC platforms serving a more demanding mid-range market.

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Wondering what a mid-range solution for 2015 based devices could look like? Shown in the diagram is a quad-core Cortex-A17 and quad-core Cortex-A7 system, leveraging the new Mali multimedia IP and latest System IP products. The ARM CoreLink CCI-400 shown is just one of a family of System IP components that unleashes high performance from the ARM Cortex and Mali processors. It extends symmetric multi-processing with the Cortex-A17 processor from four cores within a single cluster, to two clusters giving a total up to eight cores. Hardware coherency with CCI-400 is an important part of big.LITTLE processing and allows a single operating system to run across two processor clusters simultaneously. When combined with big.LITTLE Global Task Scheduling (GTS), processes and applications can move dynamically between the high performance 'big' and the high efficiency 'LITTLE' cores as demand requires. This technology allows all cores to run at the same time. Find a white paper with more details about big.LITTLE GTS here.

All of this technology is great you might say, but somehow this needs to end up on silicon as well. You’re right, and we don't leave our silicon partners hanging when it comes to enabling their SoC designers to combine our IP and proprietary IP in the most efficient and effective manner. ARM POP IP implementation solutions focus on providing the best implementation and time-to-market advantages for our partners. As an example, ARM POP IP acceleration technology for Cortex-A17 delivers 2.0+ GHz implementations on 28nm technology, and in record time making sure you get those new devices into users’ hands as soon as possible.

How soon? Well, we expect you won't have to wait that much longer – ARM and our partners are working around the clock and expect devices in early 2015 – so stay tuned, and more importantly, stay mobile…