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ARM announce new low power smartphone chip

ARM, the British low power silicon chip maker has announced a new design which uses five times less power than the current processors in today's smartphones. It will perform at a similar level to today's technology.

The company, based in Cambridge said their new Cortex A7 processor is their most efficient design, to date.

Warren East, their chief executive said “This core will enable apps processors at similar levels of performance to what you find in a high-end smartphone today, but in a couple of years that level of performance will be in a lower-end, and therefore a lower cost smartphone. The Cortex-A7 … will help connect the next billion people in developing markets.”

The 28nm design Cortex A7 is fully compatible with the high power Cortex A15 and they can be incorporated onto a single chip. The concept is being called Big.LITTLE and it allows the company to use the A7 for simple tasks and then use the power of the A15 when it is needed. This will help maintain battery life and optimise the overall power consumption of upcoming phones. This hardwware switching can be handled by the operating system.

East spoke to Reuters and said that this new design will help them stay in front of Intel in regards to efficiency. Intel may lead the world in regards to desktop and laptop computers, but they have struggled to tackle ARM in the ultra low power market.

That said, Intel will be releasing the tri gate technology. called Ivy Bridge which might help them gain more ground in this market. East said “Intel made a step forward when they talked about tri-gate technology. Actually those finfets (tri-gate technology) will be available for people to build ARM processors on as well because all the semi-conductor process people are moving in that direction. But at the same time we are moving on a different axis of increased efficiency, and we decided it was time to talk about more than incremental improvements and talk about multiple.”

Kitguru says: Intel V ARM – the fight is coming.

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