ARM Cortex-A15 Mobile Devices To Ship In 2012

Tablets and smartphones with the next generation ARM processors, which run at speeds up to 2.5GHz, are expected to begin shipping late next year.

Chandler Harris, Contributor

April 20, 2011

2 Min Read

Smartphones and tablets will feature the ARM Cortex-A15 processor beginning in late 2012 or early 2013, according to ARM company officials.

The ARM processor was introduced last year as a more powerful replacement for the Cortex-A8 core currently used in Apple's iPhone 4 and iPad tablet. The Cortex-A15 runs at speeds up to 2.5GHz and is expected to provide more processing power with less energy consumption for smartphones and tablets.

ARM's chips are currently used in most of the world's smartphones and tablets; the company licenses its designs to chip makers Nvidia, Samsung, Texas Instruments, and Qualcomm. Many current smartphone and tablet processors are derived from ARMs current Cortex-A9 design.

ARM partners are expected to initially use dual-core processors, then quad-core parts in mobile devices. Nvidia said it may use the design to develop CPU cores for PCs and servers that will be able to run Microsoft's upcoming Windows OS ARM officials said.

"We believe this new Cortex-A15 MPCore processor core from ARM, with its quantum leap in processing capabilities, will successfully enable many next-generation electronic products and redefine the level of experience consumers will demand from their smartphones and mobile computing devices," Yiwan Wong, VP of marketing in Samsung's semiconductor division, said in a joint statement with ARM.

The reason ARM's processors are used with so many smartphones and tablets is due to the relatively low energy consumption of its processors, compared with previous processors from Intel and other companies. However, Intel has vowed to make more headway in the tablet and smartphone market this year to counter ARM's dominance.

Boyd Davis, VP of Intel's architecture group, told reporters earlier this year that Intel will respond to market demands for flexibility and lower energy use by creating low-power processors that will also deliver some of the company's most popular server features, such as 64-bit compatibility, error correcting coding, and virtualization technology.

Intel has introduced Xeon and Atom microprocessors targeted at low-power servers and is currently in production with Xeon E3 45-watt and 20-watt processors. In the second half of the year, Intel has announced plans to introduce a 15-watt chip based on its recently released 32-nanometer Sandy Bridge microarchitecture. Also, Intel will soon ship its Oak Trail chipsets in tablets running the Honeycomb version of Google's Android platform.

ARM is hoping its Cortex-a15 to compete with Intel, by being the next evolutionary step on the path toward having smartphones and tablets become primary computing devices.

"With our upcoming Cortex-A15 processor, we are definitely moving closer to the day when your smartphone or tablet can act as a primary computing device," said James Bruce, the U.S. mobile segment manager at ARM Holdings, in TG Daily.

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