ARM says we can expect to see Cortex A15 based products on the market in late 2012


ARM, the British firm that designs the chips that power just about every mobile phone on the planet, has said that consumers can expect to see products based around the Cortex A15 processor to come out during late 2012. What exactly does that mean? The first ARM Cortex processor, the A8, made mobile phones twice as fast as the previous ARM11 processor family. Some A8 packing products you might be familiar with: the Palm Pre, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad (first generation), Nokia N900, the list goes on and on. More recently however the A9 has come out and it brought about a performance increase of about 50% clock for clock, meaning that a 1 GHz A9 based chip was roughly 50% faster in benchmarks than a 1 GHz A8 chip. There are several A9 products out on the market, most notably the iPad 2, and anything with an NVIDIA Tegra 2 inside, such as the Motorola Xoom or the T-Mobile G2x that we recently reviewed. Both have two Cortex A9 processors inside.

So then what’s so special about the A15? Well, it’s even faster clock per clock than the A9, and it’s able to scale from a single core configuration to up to 16 cores. Does that mean we’ll get a 16 core smartphone? No, but with Microsoft supporting ARM with their next version of Windows, and with Google trying to get Chrome OS out onto the market, ARM is seriously trying to hurt Intel. It’s difficult to say how fast the A15 is since we’ve yet to see any devices announced with that much horsepower, but you can expect to see hardware announced around either summer 2012 or February 2013, otherwise known as Mobile World Congress time, that will make your face melt off.

What we’re trying to figure out is just what the hell one should do with all that horsepower? Most of the bottlenecks we face today in mobile devices have to do with battery life and network performance. Unless they can make the A15 run on air … yea, we fail to see the point. Progress ahoy!

  • The Magician

    One of the points of multi-core processors, is that you can switch *off* cores when you don’t need them. So a 16 core processor would probably have 15 switched off most of the time and use only a fraction of the power … but when you are in the middle of some vastly complex game while your email, twitter, facebook and RSS feeds are all updating via LTE or wifi/wimax then additional cores come online (and use more battery)
    Also it’s possible to run different processes on different cores so guaranteeing a level of performance for a time-critical app without worrying about it being preempted by a process on a different core.

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