ARM had a big press/analyst show at the Epic Roasthouse here in San Francisco this morning. They announced a new portfolio of IP targeted at the next generation mobile experience. There were 4 components to the announcement:
- A new microprocessor, the Cortex-A72. More details below
- New CoreLink CCI-500 Cache Coherent Interconnect allowing higher system bandwidth and increasing system efficiency delivering a 2X increase in peak bandwidth and enabling 4K displays and beyond
- New Mali-T880 GPU for delivering console quality gaming experience within a mobile power envelope. 1.8X the performance of the T760
- Optimization POP (Performance Optimization Pack) for TSMC 16FF+
There are already 10 licensees for the A72, most of whom won’t go on the record. The three that will are HiSilicion, MediaTek and Rockchip. The RTL has already been delivered to licensees who are designing it into products expected to ship early next year.
The Cortex-A72 is the heart of this announcement. Of course it is ARM v8 64-bit instruction set. If we take the Cortex-A15 in 2014 on TSMC 28nm as 1, then the A57 in TSMC 20nm (shipping this year) is 1.9X the performance and the A72 in TSMC 16FF+ (which should have parts that are in design now shipping early next year) is 3.5X. Some of that performance increase comes from the move from 20nm to 16FF+ but not all of it. Apparently there are also architectural advances too, which is surprising. It is not that the A57 doesn’t incorporate pretty much all the microprocessor knowledge out there. The A72 can be used in the big.LITTLE configuration and the LITTLE is still the A53 (as it was with the A57).
The new CoreLink enables big.LITTLE processing and delivers system power savings due to an integrated snoop filter. It has double the peak memory system bandwidth and 30 increase in processor-memory performance compared to the previous generation. So more responsive user interfaces (especially for gaming). There is also full support for TrustZone for a secure media path.
The Mali is capable of delivering 4K pixel resolution at frame-rate of 120fps within a typical mobile power budget. It also supports a TrustZone secure videopath for 4K premium content. There is a 40% power reduction for the same workload (and it has more shaders and so on too). Again some of this comes from the change in process node and some from architectural changes. Along with the Mali is the Mali-DP550 display processor. The whole video subsystem can be optimize encoding so that, for example, the parts of a scene that are unchanged can be fed forward to the video encoder so that it does not have to waste effort (power) on recomputing that as would be the case with a raw video feed. The video subsystem has native support for 10-bit YUV for advanced gaming and premium 4K video content.
A system built around this new IP should be capable of delivering 0.5W with 2.5GHZ for mobile (or 3.5GHz for tablet).