ARM is one of those companies that plays a pivotal role in almost every other smartphone’s making. The silicon vendor is known for its widely adopted processor architectures and designs which bigger conglomerates like Apple, Samsung and Qualcomm have been implementing inside their chipsets for years.
Today, ARM upgraded its lineup at the ongoing COMPUTEX in Taiwan with two new products – the flagship-grade Cortex A75 which is a successor to the A73 and the mid-tier Cortex A55, successor to the existing A53. However, apart from the usual performance bumps, there’s a lot going here that will significantly impact the next wave of smartphones.
A More Dynamic Toolset for Chip Makers
The most prominent cornerstone of these processors is the presence of the company’s latest DymacIQ CPUs, an upgrade to the big.LITTLE architecture. This new approach will allow manufacturers like Qualcomm to custom build design for its chips. Now, without giving into the technical details, that essentially means that manufacturers can cherry-pick CPUs and create a cluster according to their needs. For instance, a chip maker can opt for seven little A55 cores and one big A75 one to provide a mix of long battery life, cost efficiency, and a high ceiling of single-threaded performance whenever required.
A variant of this type of combinations was possible with big.LITTLE, however, in that case, the manufacturer had to necessarily match the number of both cores. With DymacIQ, they can enforce any combinations in an eight-core chip. Hence, smartphones will be able to cater a more specific set of customers without compromising on either of the core aspects (performance and efficiency).
The Age of ARM-based Computers
The other major architectural change is only with the A75. This new processor can sustain a much larger power consumption (2W) and hence, offers 30 percent of extra performance on larger-screen devices. Here, with “large-screen devices”, we’re not referring to the so-called phablets, on the contrary, ARM is targeting the upcoming “Cellular PC” project that will enable laptops to function on mobile processors. A demo of this was shown off a couple of months ago, however, A75 will provide enough leeway for the operating system to run properly. The English company even set up a dedicated Large Screen Compute division a year and a half ago. Therefore, we can expect more announcements regarding this in the next couple of quarters.
Intelligent Data Predictions
Apart from processing machine learning tasks, these new chips will also utilize machine learning algorithms for improving their overall performance. The Cortex A75 and A55 will benefit from a branch predictor that is based on various neural networks for evaluating what data needs to be prefetched when.
As far as the technical specifications are concerned, the Cortex A75 brings a 22 percent performance bump over the A73, 16 percent higher memory throughput, 34 percent improvement in its Geekbench score, 20 percent jump in single-threaded performance and it’s roughly 2.5x the size of the A55.
The A55, on the other hand, is said to be 2.5 times as power efficient as the existing A53 which has been on 1.7 billion devices over the past three years. It also doubles the memory streaming performance, 15 percent better power efficiency and 18 percent better single-thread performance. ARM also announced an upgrade to its top-tier GPU, G71 – the Mali-G72. The English company claims this new processor offers 25 percent improvement in efficiency relative to its predecessor G71, 17 percent better than the G71 in ML benchmarks and 20 percent better performance density (aka performance per mm² of space).
Devices powered by the new Cortex-A75 and A55 designs will be launched sometime in the first quarter of next year. However, ARM says that Chinese vendors might release them earlier. It will be interesting how well they turn out considering all the big changes they have talked about.