Tuesday 4 June 2013

ARM announces Cortex A-12 chip for mid-range smartphones

ARM has launched a mid-range mobile processing solution in order to address the needs of cheaper handsets. The Cortex A-12 processor, which is the successor to the Cortex A-9, is the company’s new mid-range silicon for phones starting from $200 (Rs.11,314).

According to ARM, the new Cortex-A12 core will give as much as 40 percent more performance as the earlier Cortex A-9 while at the same frequency and process node. However it is still a step down from the Cortex A-15, which is found in devices that have Samsung’s Exynos 5250 or Nvidia’s Tegra 4.

The interesting thing about the Cortex A-12, is that it can be paired with the smaller Cortex-A7 in the ARM’s big:LITTLE configuration, which basically allows for a user to have a lot more options when using their smartphones. When performance is needed, the phone can use the A-12, but when possible, can also switch to the A-7 to increase the battery life.

There has been a lot of talk about the gap in ARM’s line-up between the A-7 and the A-15. The earlier seen Cortex A-9 was too slow, especially when compared to Intel’s Atom processor, or Qualcomm’s Krait 200/300 based SoCs. Comparatively, the A-15 can outperform both the other solutions, but will cost the users a lot of power and integrated chip space requirements.

In order to understand how the A-12 fits in, it is important to compare the upper and lower standards, the A-15 and the A-7. This comparison also makes sense because the A-7 can be compared to the A-9 in terms of performance. When compared it is seen that the A-15 can pump out about four times the amount of performance as the A-7, but is not really a power-efficient solution. This gap is now being addressed by the ARM Cortex A-12, which is definitely more powerful than the A-7 and the A-9, but is a step down from the A-15. The processor is expected to feature in smartphone devices by late 2014.

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