Broadcom announces plans for ARM's Cortex-A15 SoC

Chip maker Broadcom has revealed its plans for future tablet processors, announcing at the Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona that it has extended its ARM licence to cover the next-generation Cortex-A15 design.

As an ARM licensee, Broadcom buys in designs from the British low-power chip giant and creates its own system-on-chip designs that it can then sell on to third parties. While the company has long licensed ARM's smartphone-oriented designs, this most recent announcement indicates that Broadcom is looking to expand its horizons.

In an attempt to attempt to grab a portion of the burgeoning tablet market from Texas Instrument's OMAP 5, Qualcomm's quad-core Snapdragon, and Nvidia's upcoming 'super-chip' Kal-El, Broadcom has announced that it will be licensing ARM's high-performance Cortex-A15 'Eagle' design.

The company also announced that it would be moving towards real-time embedded systems and ultra-low power computing requirements, licensing ARM's Cortex-R5 and Cortex-R6 real-time CPU designs alongside the smallest Cortex-M0 design.

"ARM’s wide portfolio of cores enhances Broadcom’s strategy [to provide chips for] a wide range of applications from Bluetooth headsets to high-end application processors for tablets," claimed Broadcom's chief executive Scott McGregor at the MWC announcement.

The news is a big win for ARM, which relies on licensing its designs to third-party companies - unlike rival chip giant Intel, which makes the overwhelming majority of its processors itself. It's a tactic that continues to serve ARM well in the mobile and embedded computing spaces, but only time will tell if it can make the jump to the desktop and server markets.