ARM Unveils Cortex-A7 Processor

Cambridge-based chip designer, ARM, has announced its most

power-efficient chip yet, which it claims could herald the era of sub £65


ARM has announced the Cortex-A7 MPCore processor and claims

that it delivers five time the energy efficiency of the Cortex-A8, the chip found in

most of today’s high-end smartphones and tablets.

Not only this, but the 28nm Cortex-A7 is just one fifth the size

of the Cortex-A8 while “providing significantly greater performance.” This

increase in efficiency and decrease in footprint won’t however be seen in mobile

products until mid- to late-2013.

“The Cortex-A7 processor will enable a rich user experience

in sub-$100 [£64] entry-level smartphones and help connect the next billion people in

developing markets.” The A7 design is based on ARM’s most powerful chip, the

Cortex-A15, but has been optomised for low-power use through something ARM likes to call big.LITTLE processing.

ARM Cortex A7

ARM architecture dominates the smartphone and tablet market,

with Intel x86 architecture so far being too power-hungry. The new Cortex-A7 processor will be

seen in System on Chips (SoC) from the likes of Broadcom, LG

Electronics, Linaro, QNX, Redbend, Samsung, ST-Ericsson and

Texas Instruments.

With ARM-based chip currently sitting inside something like

95 per cent of smartphones and the Cortex-A8 powering high-end devices

like the iPhone 4S and Samsung Galaxy Nexus, it’s clear that ARM want the A7

processor to be just as powerful and popular, but in a much lower price bracket.

“This core will enable apps processors at similar

levels of performance to what you find in a high-end smartphone today, but in a

couple of years that level of performance will be in a lower-end, and therefore

a lower-cost smartphone,” the ARM chief executive, Warren East, said –

with developing markets such as China, India and Africa a key target for


                                big.little processing ARM Cortex A7

Intel is trying to muscle in on the highly lucrative mobile

market and is hoping that it’s low-power Medfield processors will be able to

capture some of ARM’s market share. It will be unveiling its Red Ridge Medfield tablet

reference design at the beginning of next month, which promises to combine

low-power and a small footprint with “stunning” performance.

With Intel promising Medfield-powered phones and tablets in

the first half of 2012, it is certainly an exciting time in the development of

mobile CPUs and this can only mean good things for our wallets as Intel and ARM

go head-to-head.

Source: ARM