ARM To Partner Cortex-A7 & A15 For big.LITTLE Processing Paradigm

While the newly announced Cortex-A7 MPCore will make a fine processor on its own, possibly replacing the likes of the Cortex-A8 and the Cortex-A9, ARM is betting on the processor to be the perfect wingman for the high performance Cortex-A15 MPCore chips.

ARM wants to partner the more powerful A15 with the ultra efficient A7 and allow devices to select the right processor for the right task based on resource requirements. A demo produced at the ARM Event in London showed how starting a browser required the A15 but actually reading through web pages snoozed the latter and activated the A7.

By combining the two processors, ARM aims to resolve the complex issue of providing enough computing power on demand and dramatically improving battery life.

Switching between the two, we were told would only take 20ms and the dynamic selection would be completely transparent to the application software or any middleware - that includes the operating system.

While TI already has a similar configuration (the OMAP4 family uses two Cortex-A9 and two Cortex-M3 cores), we've been told that the A7 will not replace the M3 but rather complement it. We might therefore potentially see M3 & A7 pairings as well as M3, A7 and A15 clusters as well.