ARM looking to power cheaper smartphones with 'ultra-efficient' Cortex-A7

ARM looking to power cheaper smartphones with 'ultra-efficient' Cortex-A7
With a reported 95 percent of the smartphone market already under its belt, you might imagine Cambridge-based ARM would be focusing on consolidating its position rather than expanding it.

The firm's latest mission, however, is to grow the reach of the smartphone market as a whole, powering cheaper handsets without any performance hit.

The answer, ARM claims, is the Cortex-A7 MP core – a processor the firm reports delivers five times the energy-efficiency as the Cortex-A8, but sporting more power.

As a result, ARM believes A7-equipped handsets will offer users the kind of rich experience they've come to expect from smartphones, but at a sub $100 price point.

The little big picture

As well as targeting entry-level devices, however, ARM claims A7 will also serve customers where cost is less of an issue.

The chip can be paired with high-end processors such as ARM's Cortex-A15 MPCore to power handsets at the top of the pile, reducing their energy consumption at the same time.

It's a technology ARM has branded 'Big.LITTLE', with the phone automatically switching from the A7 to the more powerful A15 when required.

"Big.LITTLE processing, enabled by Cortex-A7, achieves this by pairing the best of the high-performance Cortex-A15 MPCore and ultra-efficient Cortex-A7 processors," the company said in a statement.

"Big.LITTLE processing allows devices to seamlessly select the right processor for the right task, based on performance requirements. Importantly, this dynamic selection is transparent to the application software or middleware running on the processors."

The release of the A7 comes as ARM faces increasing competition from Intel in the smartphone and tablet market, following the unveiling of the firm's Oak Trail processor back in April.

[source: ARM]

With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.


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