ARM and AMD both unveiled new processors today with the Cambridge-based ARM extending its range of Cortex processors for use with 4G technology while AMD has announced a low-power APU specifically for use in tablets.
ARM launched the Cortex-R5 MPCore and the Cortex-R7 MPCore processors for use in 3G and 4G (LTE not WiMax) mobile baseband, mass storage, automotive and industrial markets. The R5 is the successor to the R4 and boasts an expanded feature set including a high priority Low-Latency Peripheral Port (LLPP) for fast peripheral reads and writes, and an Accelerator Coherency Port (ACP) providing cache coherency for increased data transfer efficiency and more reliable firmware.
ARM is playing up the power of the R7 saying it will beat anything the company has produced thus far: “The Cortex-R7 processor greatly extends the performance levels of the Cortex-R series beyond any existing capabilities through the introduction of new technology, including out-of-order execution, dynamic register renaming combined with improved branch prediction, superscalar execution and faster hardware support for divide, floating point and other functions.” Both processors are available for licensing today and four tier-one licensees in the mass storage, automotive and mobile baseband markets already have designs underway.
We spoke to AMD’s Bob Grim at CES a few weeks ago, and he told us that he was very excited about its Fusion series of APUs which are designed with portable devices is mind. It has now unveiled a new APU which it has specifically designed with tablets in mind.
The new chip is a low-power version of the Ontario-series APU, the C-50, which normally requires 9W of power to get it up and running. The dual-core 1GHz C-50 will be seen in a large array of laptops this year but for tablet processing power, 9W would be just too much strain on the smaller batteries so AMD has launched this version which uses just 5W of power.
Of course there are some trade offs and by reducing the power AMD has also reduced some of the features of the C-50. While it will still speed along at 1GHz, the memory controller is simpler meaning less support for larger memory, clock speeds and memory timing. It also means peripheral support is cut back to one port per type, so only one USB, one HDMI and so on. Acer’s 10-inch Windows 7 tablet due out some time this year will be the first to sport this low power version of the C-50.