ARM plans multi-threaded processor

At the Linley Tech Processor conference this week, ARM revealed plans to introduce multi-threading processors in an as-of-yet unnamed processor design following the Cortex A15 'Eagle'.

An ARM representative disclosed the plans for implementing multithreading technology into the ARM architecture further down the road, reported IT World. With Cortex-A15 architecture already locked down (and open for licensing), this new processor will follow suit to the A15.

ARM has already implemented several server-like features for its upcoming Cortex-A15 processor core, including hardware virtualisation and larger physical memory addresses (up to 1TB of addressable RAM), which will surely make the A15 a candidate for cloud computing environments.

Whether ARM will fork designs and create specifically server-oriented chips remains to be seen, but it is very likely that this will happen. Multi-threading applications can be very useful from a server point of view, but not so much on lighter devices such as the ones ARM has traditionally been dabbling in, and the secret of ARM's successful mobile ventures is to keep the design simple. Multi-threading will add logic and logic will pile on silicon, not the kind of thing you want in future smartphones and tablets.

There is also the slight problem of code optimisation. Multi-threading improves efficiency and consequently performance if the software side of things is in place, which then depends on the famous 'ecosystem', as Intel puts it. No ecosystem, no joy. ARM will have to make a huge - and visible - move into software development well before marketing such a design, so it won't exactly be a surprise when it happens.

According to ARM roadmappery, this future design should fit the 2012-2013 timeframe and built on a 28nm or smaller fabrication process. ARM has made a point of making their designs 'shrink-proof', ie: capable of easily shrinking to the next node without a total redesign, so fabbing process aside, we're in store for quite the show.

If anything, ARM is giving Intel and AMD notice they are ready for the premier league of computing.