Riding an already-burgeoning portfolio of licensees, ARM has announced the birth of its latest microprocessor, the Cortex-A15 MPCore - that will challenge AMD and Intel directly in the low-power device market.
Codenamed Eagle, the new design is an evolution of the ARM v7 architecture that company says will be fabbed in a 32nm or 28nm process, which ARM will be more than happy to license to you today. The ever-shrinking manufacturing will allow ARM to save a ton on power and footprint of an entire SoC and will allow licensees to come up with even smaller devices (although we do like our screens big).
Getting down to the nitty-gritty details, the processor is powered by up to four SMP cores and each core will have its own L1 cache. They will, however, share an L2 cache and will run on a 128-bit bus. The processor will zoom about at (up to) a whopping 2.5GHz, but you're not likely to see that in a smartphone any time soon.
Breaking down the design by application, ARM suggests that it will target the smartphone market with single-core or dual-core designs - where power savings are required - at up to 1.5GHz, digital appliances also with single- and dual-core running at up to 2GHz.
The quad-core versions of the processors will target web-servers and home servers as it has included hardware virtualisation in the mix of features and 48-bit or 64-bit memory addressing (considering the >4GB memory support that the processor lists).
With this, ARM is promising something that, we quote, "delivers a 5x performance improvement over today’s advanced smartphone processors, with a comparable energy footprint."
The best defense ARM has is a definitely a good offense. While AMD and Intel are fumbling around trying to shrink bulky x86 designs and whipping them into something power efficient, ARM can do the precise opposite. The competition has already set the bar, and the bar is lower than ARM can already vault over. We expect ARM to announce a polished Mali core down the line, to keep up with the visual demands of this sort of computing.
The company expects partners to deliver on the goods in the 2012 timeframe, if the world hasn't come to an end by then.