Chip technology firm ARM has expanded its ARMv8-A family of 64-bit processors with a new power-efficient design aimed at high-growth mobile and embedded applications, such as smartphones, single-board computers and the automotive market.
Announced to coincide with the firm's TechCon conference in Santa Clara, the Cortex-A35 is being touted by ARM as the first in a new family of ultra-high efficiency ARMv8-A processors.
However, like all of ARM's processors, it will be down to the company's silicon vendor partners such as MediaTek, Broadcom or Samsung to take the core design and manufacture chips using it. The firm expects products based on the Cortex-A35 to begin shipping by late 2016.
The Cortex-A35 has been designed to open up greater user experiences enabled by the ARMv8-A architecture with its 64-bit and 32-bit computational capability and complete set of cryptography features, ARM said.
At the same time, it consumes 10 percent less active power compared to a comparable 32-bit chip such as the Cortex-A7, while delivering performance enhancements in the range of 6 percent to 40 percent across a range of workloads, ARM claimed.
"Cortex-A35 is the natural successor to the compact-footprint Cortex-A7, the leading energy-efficient processor, which has powered more than a billion smartphones and tablets," said James McNiven, general manager for ARM's CPU group.
"With the introduction of the world's most efficient 64-bit capable mobile processor, ARM and its partners will deliver the benefits of 64-bit computing to the next billion smartphone users and beyond."
The Cortex-A7 has featured in many high-end smartphone chips as part of the big.LITTLE architecture, where a number of power-efficient Cortex-A7 cores were paired with higher performance cores that kicked in only when demanding tasks were running, in order to deliver optimal battery life.
ARM said that the Cortex-A35 "takes the power profile of Cortex-A7 and its ARM big.LITTLE multi-core configurability and combines it with the software maturity and 64-bit compute performance of the ARMv8-A architecture," which implies that the Cortex-A35 could be paired with the Cortex-A72 or Cortex-A53 cores to deliver a 64-bit version of the same arrangement.
According to ARM, more than 50 percent of smartphones now shipping are based on chips that use the 64-bit ARMv8-A architecture, with the Cortex-A53 representing a large percentage of those units. Relative to that design, the Cortex-A35 consumes about 33 percent less power per core and occupies 25 percent less silicon area.
One ARM licensee that is apparently already planning to use the Cortex-A35 is chip firm MediaTek.
"The ARM Cortex-A35 processor is welcomed by MediaTek for its scalability of the ARMv8-A architecture, which will enable us to continue to provide efficient and highly integrated 64-bit SoCs to global markets," said MediaTek executive vice president Jeffrey Ju.
The smallest configuration of the Cortex-A35 processor would consume less than 6mW at 100MHz, ARM said, making for an extremely small, ultra-efficient 64-bit processor that can be used for embedded applications.
Beyond smartphones, applications could also include low-power servers, smart TVs and set-top boxes, ARM said.
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