Monday, June 3, 2013

ARM’s Cortex-A12 to offer 40 percent performance gain for mid-range phones and tablets

Look at any smartphone or tablet vendor and they will be pushing their premium devices pretty hard. But the market for $400+ premium devices is only so big, and consumers are expected to be buying more mid-range phones or tablets ($250-$350 price range) by 2015. Chip maker ARM is responding to that growing market by unveiling the Cortex-A12 chip.
While aimed at mid-range devices, the Cortex-A12 is definitely no slouch in the performance department. It’s the successor to the Cortex-A9 and moves from a 40nm process to 28nm. That makes the chip 30 percent smaller, and when combined with the new design, achieves a 40 percent performance gain using the same power draw.
ARM has also added a few key new features to the chip, the first of which is the ability to combine the A12 with a Cortex-A7 processor in a big.LITTLE setup. That makes it a very scalable chip to suit a devices’ processing needs. The A12 also includes virtualization and TrustZone technology, allowing devices using it to double as a work solution as well as your personal smartphone or tablet. ARM also lets the chip address up to 1TB of memory, which I’m pretty sure no vendor will come anywhere near testing the limits of in their devices.

You’ll also be happy to hear the A12 has been paired with ARM’s Mali-T622 GPU, which has full OpenCL 1.1, OpenGL/ES 3.0, and DirectX 11 support as well as handling 1080p30 video playback. And it does that while only using half the power of the first generation Mali-T600 GPUs. Finally, you can throw in a Mali-V500 for video playback, and with it go from 1080p60 right through to 4K output at 120fps depending on the configuration.
The ARM Cortex-A12 certainly looks promising. 40 percent more performance than a Cortex-A9 combined with 1080p output using half the power draw even with the entry level chip is sure to have Intel taking notice. It’s also going to secure ARM a new round of licensing deals with smartphone and tablet manufacturers.
Now read: Samsung pulls the covers off the 4.3-inch Galaxy S4 Mini
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