The Eagle has landed. As portable devices sporting ARM's Cortex A9 1GHz powerhouse start to appear, the company has unveiled the next step in the evolution of its system-on-a-chip Cortex A architecture, the A15 MPCore processor. ARM-based chips currently provide the processing power for a host of mobile devices, from smartphones to tablets, and this latest development is claimed to deliver five times the performance of current solutions such as the Cortex A8, yet has a similar low energy footprint.
ARM sees its latest system-on-a-chip development being available in configurations ranging from 1GHz to 2.5GHz, and being extended to octo core designs and beyond for certain implementations. The scalable solution can provide processing power in everything from smartphones, tablets and televisions, right on up to high-end servers and wireless infrastructure. Like the rest of the Cortex A family of processors, the new baby is fully application compatible with existing software developer ecosystems like Google's Android, Adobe's Flash, Linux and Windows.
Other features include up to 4MB tightly-coupled low-latency L2 cache, multiple software environment capabilities including full hardware virtualization, the ability to support up to a terabyte of memory, and advanced memory correction. Up to 30 per cent less memory is required to store instructions, the inclusion of NEON technology is said to speed up the handling of multimedia and processing algorithms, and hardware support for floating point operations coming in the next generation of consumer products is provided.
Currently available to system manufacturers in 32nm and 28nm flavors, the A15's development roadmap is also reported to extend to 20nm. As to when consumers will begin to benefit from the new chip... the Cortex A9 was launched by ARM in October 2007, and we are only just now seeing it in new tablets – so don't hold your breath.