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ARM announces quad-core Cortex-A15 chips

Posted: , posted by Scott H.

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ARM announces quad-core Cortex-A15 chips
ARM today has made the announcement many have been waiting for, the availability of their quad-core A15 CPUs based on the 28nm die process. The Cortex-A15 hard macro processors are floating-point monsters, running at 2GHz and cranking out 20,000 DMIPS (that would be Dhrystone Million Instructions Per Second) while sipping electricity at the same rate as the dual-core Cortex-A9s.

A large part of that efficiency gain comes from the die shrink between the Cortex-A9 and the Cortex-A15; the A9 was built on a 40nm process, the same as every other mobile CPU sold last year, from the iPhone 4S to the Droid Incredible 2. The shift to a 28nm process in the A15 takes advantage of one of the few “free lunch” aspects of physics – shrinking the transistors means less electricity is lost as heat, so you clock cycles get faster and more efficient, which is win-win for end users. Of course die shrinks are incredibly hard engineering feats, so that “free lunch” is awfully expensive to "cater".

In this case TSMC is doing the catering; this is not a surprise, as TSMC is making just about everyone’s 28nm chips these days. In fact, there’s some concern about whether the yield will be high enough for the volumes that smartphone and tablet OEMs want to ship in the second half of the year.

Speaking of which, the second half of the year is probably the earliest you'll see a Cortex-A15 in a device – with availability starting now, it will most likely be Q4 before we see a real product packing these mobile marvels. Hopefully between now and then SoCs can get an integrated LTE voice chip made on the same die size working, which would finally give us meaningful battery life on LTE phones, even those with normal-sized batteries.

source: ARM via Engadget

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posted on 17 Apr 2012, 14:09 7

1. Captain_Doug (Posts: 1035; Member since: 10 Feb 2012)

I really like this. A lot.

posted on 17 Apr 2012, 14:09 3

2. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 4888; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)

Hey, hey, hey, just in time for a Samsung Galaxy Note 2. Man I can't wait to see what Samsung puts into that beast of a phone.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is what I want hands down!

posted on 17 Apr 2012, 14:41 2

4. android_hitman (unregistered)

but sammy uses exynos .. so you will never see it :)

posted on 17 Apr 2012, 15:14 1

8. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 4888; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)

Wait, I thought that Samsung's Exynos, Texas Instrument's OMAP, & NVIDIA's Tegra are all ARM based tech?

Qualcomm's Snapdragon are Krait based which is not ARM.

posted on 17 Apr 2012, 16:25 4

13. SherlockPhones (Posts: 3; Member since: 17 Apr 2012)

qualcomm is also uses ARM. They just the make custom designs that exceed the standard instructions which is why scorpion(cortex a-8) competed very well against A-9 and krait which is A-9 is similar to cortex A-15 in design

posted on 17 Apr 2012, 20:42 1

20. remixfa (Posts: 14605; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

qualcomm DOES NOT USE ARM.

qualcomm uses their own in house chip designs and then calls them "ARM equivilants".. which basically means.. they suck.

Exynos is a modified ARM design. Samsung uses ARM as its base design and builds from it.

Nvidia and Texas Instruments (OMAP) generally have the closest to stock ARM chips... with TI being the most stock of the group.

posted on 18 Apr 2012, 00:46 7

26. Hunt3rj2 (Posts: 396; Member since: 11 Nov 2011)

Qualcomm licensed the ARM ISA, it supports everything that the Cortex A9 and A15 support.... which basically means you're full of s**t (again).

Samsung cannot modify the Cortex A15 design, that is a black box. They can change everything outside it and the silicon that it is made on, but changing the actual Cortex design means they have to pony up the cash for an ISA license like Qualcomm. What they do manage to do is make it much faster through solid process technology and generally better SoC design around the Cortex cores (better GPU, memory bandwidth, power efficiency, etc.)

Krait didn't need to beat Cortex A15 this round, it already won by being more efficient than Tegra 3 and running LTE. If Cortex A15 is a no-show, they win by default, no questions asked. And when Cortex A15 lands, they'll already have experience with 28nm and be able to better use the process to increase performance.

posted on 18 Apr 2012, 02:29 2

27. darac (Posts: 2156; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)

Hats off to you man..the best, most mature tech comment i've seen here for a long while.

posted on 18 Apr 2012, 08:06 1

31. remixfa (Posts: 14605; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

Qualcomm's design for krait and for crapdragon were in house designs. u really need to go do some research before you tell me that Im the one that is full of it.

" Qualcomm licenses ARM's technology so that it can use it to build its own integrated chipset solutions that are compatible, but not exact copies of ARM's reference designs. This allows Qualcomm to do some things a bit differently."


They licence ARM specifically to use it as a reference point to build their own chips. which is why they always say "A9/A15 COMPARABLE"

Also, Exynos IS a modified ARM. It is not a stock chip. Did you think it was magic that there was a power difference between the OMAP3, T2, and Exynos, even though they all start out with the same silicone? Everything you just mentioned helps the statement that samsung modifies and builds on ARM.

Krait doesnt need to beat anything. Qualcomm isnt in it for the high end specs like samsung is. They are in it for cheap production and high compatibility so they can sell to lots of manufacturers. Samsung's Exynos is more of a boutique chip. It is lower yield and higher power. It is meant for samsung (and apple). The "spec war" is specifically for us geeks to make comparisons between chips.

posted on 19 Apr 2012, 11:34 1

36. Hunt3rj2 (Posts: 396; Member since: 11 Nov 2011)

1. There is no "stock chip", because ARM only makes the CPU.
2. Qualcomm does need to keep pace, they're getting their SoCs in high end phones.
3. Exynos 4210's CPU will have the same performance clock for clock as OMAP4. Tegra 2 is different because they left out NEON add-ons that ARM makes optional in the Cortex designs. They may increase the overclocking headroom (Notice how Exynos 4210 launched at 1.2 GHz, OMAP4 only launched at 1 GHz, and so did Tegra 2.)

You need to read more and understand the terminology, Krait cores are used in Snapdragons, as Snapdragon is a family of SoCs. Qualcomm has an ISA license, which means that they have full freedom to design an ARM core that can be radically different from the Cortex series. However, just because it is different in design does not mean it runs ARM code differently, because that would mean it's not an ARM chip at all. Your argument is essentially like saying AMD CPUs aren't true x86 chips because it's a different design compared to Intel CPUs.

posted on 18 Apr 2012, 07:26

30. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 4888; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)

Ok cool. So everything is basically ARM. Just that Qualcomm HEAVILY modifies their chip into their KRAIT monster!

Samsung does the same thus their EXYNOS monster.

posted on 17 Apr 2012, 20:27 1

19. jabberwocky (Posts: 89; Member since: 21 Feb 2012)

Exynos is also licensed and modded ARM.

posted on 18 Apr 2012, 02:34 1

28. darac (Posts: 2156; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)

Yeah..i'm a Sony fanboy and am like holding on for their major release in Q4, but Note 2..uh, that one's starting to climb up to the top of my wish list.
It'll be an ultimate all-in-one handheld gadget.

posted on 18 Apr 2012, 07:23

29. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 4888; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)

I know what you mean. I was so impressed with the Samsung Galaxy Note that it's making me crazy thinking about what will be inside the Samsung Galaxy Note 2!

posted on 17 Apr 2012, 14:28

3. JBz007 (Posts: 63; Member since: 02 Mar 2012)


posted on 17 Apr 2012, 14:43 1

5. shadowcell (Posts: 300; Member since: 28 Mar 2012)

The key to the battery saving is ARM's new "companion core" which runs the smartphone is idle and all 4 cores are disabled temporarily. Supposedly, NVIDIA is working on a Tegra 4 using this technology. All exciting news.

posted on 17 Apr 2012, 15:35 3

11. Scott_H (Posts: 167; Member since: 28 Oct 2011)

The new companion core helps reduce energy consumption during computational "downtimes", but the die shrink saves energy all the time.

posted on 17 Apr 2012, 17:16 2

14. theoak (Posts: 324; Member since: 16 Nov 2011)

Doesn't the Tegra 3 use a companion core already? This is nothing new as far as NVidia is concerned.

posted on 17 Apr 2012, 20:44

21. remixfa (Posts: 14605; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

yea, thats not an ARM companion core, thats an Nvidia companion. And that is currently in use in the Nvidia T3 that runs the OneX and Transformer Prime.

posted on 17 Apr 2012, 14:45

6. Bluesky02 (Posts: 1439; Member since: 05 Dec 2011)

The Next Xbox is rumor to have 16 Core CPU

posted on 17 Apr 2012, 15:04 1

7. jellytime (Posts: 135; Member since: 05 Dec 2011)

Simple answer NO

posted on 17 Apr 2012, 15:32

10. jaytai0106 (Posts: 1888; Member since: 30 Mar 2011)

I am confused about what Xbox's 16 core has to do with this ARM quad core? I did hear about the rumor that the next gen kinect will use 4 cores alone. But rumor is rumor. Back to this beast quad core!!!! This does sounds amazing!! I do have a question thought. Why are companies trying to make faster processors for phones instead of making them more energy efficient. I am currently still using the Atrix 4G and having no problem with its speed. And my friends who have the Razr and SGS2 told me that they love the speed and there is no need to be faster. I am waiting for the HTC One X :) For the Sammy fans who are reading my comment right now, I do think SGS3 is going to be a beast and probably will beat HTC One X. However, I am not a super power user and the HTC One X will suit me just fine. I do like the design of One X and its camera function feature. Samsung's AMOELD has the blue tin to create the true black, but sadly I just can't get used to look at the blue tin :(

Companies please make more energy efficient CPU instead of faster for now. I really can't find any App out there needs that much of HP under the hood. Screen display still uses more battery than the CPU, so that's probably the problem we should tackle.

posted on 17 Apr 2012, 19:39 2

17. groupsacc (Posts: 232; Member since: 28 Feb 2012)

AMOLED screens don't utilise "blue tin" (seriously don't know what the heck u r on about). I assume that you are saying that it somehow uses the blue sub pixel to "render" black more black.

OLED screens produce black by completely turning off the pixel. Like turning off your bedroom lights when you go to sleep.

Whereas on LCD screens the backscreen light is on all the time (whether the back lighting is fluorescent or LED based) but you "block" the pixel to produce black. Like putting on a blindfold when you go to sleep. And the bedroom light will always sip through the sides of the blindfold so you are never in complete darkness.

posted on 17 Apr 2012, 20:46

22. remixfa (Posts: 14605; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

good analogy.

The new chips are more power efficient and more powerful at the same time. Shrinking the die (chip) from 40nm to 28nm saves a lot of energy right off the bat. Add in other improvements and you actually have a pretty serious bump in battery life.

posted on 18 Apr 2012, 08:47

33. jaytai0106 (Posts: 1888; Member since: 30 Mar 2011)

Sorry bud, that was what I meant to say and I know it's not actual tin they put on the screen. But the screen always looks blue.

posted on 17 Apr 2012, 15:23

9. Carlitos (Posts: 567; Member since: 23 Oct 2011)

So chances are this will come with Samsung galaxy s3. Cause chances are this has been out for a while longer.

posted on 17 Apr 2012, 15:37 1

12. TROLL (banned) (Posts: 4851; Member since: 13 Apr 2012)


posted on 17 Apr 2012, 18:38 1

15. Toad222 (Posts: 9; Member since: 03 Mar 2012)

Need a quadcore of this and razr maxx battery life and jelly bean, my life is set

posted on 17 Apr 2012, 19:16 1

16. Bluesky02 (Posts: 1439; Member since: 05 Dec 2011)

Because smartphones like Samsungs are catching up with technologies so quickly that they could soon match existing consoles power. So Microsoft need to make the next xbox in such a way that it'll stay high end for next two generations ahead.
Rumor specs are
- IBM PowerPC 16 Core CPU
- 2x AMD GPU 7000 series
- 4 GB RAM
- Kinect 2.0
- Blu-ray
The rest i forgot...

posted on 17 Apr 2012, 20:47

23. remixfa (Posts: 14605; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

needs more ram! it better be DDR5 ram if its only 4gigs. :)

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