ARM announces new quad-core Cortex-A15 Hard Macro variant

It's pretty much a year to the day that we reported the possibility of a quad-core Cortex-A15 from ARM, and look what just came across the wire! It's the Cortex-A15 Hard Macro -- the first design from ARM we're aware of that packs four A15 cores. The Hard Macro edition is of particular interest as it aims to help manufacturers bring products to market more quickly and at a lower cost. The chip variant runs at 2GHz, with performance of over 20,000 DMIPS if you were wondering. Notably, it operates with the same power usage of the A9 hard macro, which should mean it's got good efficiency credentials, and it's the first in the family to be based on 28nm process. There's no indication where we might see this turning up, but with the firm spilling the full details at the IEEE Symposium later this week, we're sure we'll find out soon enough.

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ARM Announces Cortex-A15 Quad-Core Hard Macro
17 April 2012

Power-optimized implementation of quad-core hard macro on leading 28nm process

CAMBRIDGE, UK – April 17, 2012– ARM today announced the availability of a high performance, power-optimized quad-core hard macro implementation of its flagship ARM® Cortex™-A15 MPCore™ processor.

The ARM Cortex-A15 MP4 hard macro is designed to run at 2GHz and delivers performance in excess of 20,000DMIPS, while maintaining the power efficiency of the Cortex-A9 hard macro. The Cortex-A15 hard macro development is the result of the unique synergy arising from the combination of ARM Cortex processor IP, Artisan® physical IP, CoreLink™ systems IP and ARM integration capabilities, and utilizes the TSMC 28HPM process.

The low leakage implementation, featuring integrated NEON™ SIMD technology and floating point (VFP), delivers an extremely competitive balance of performance and power and is ideal for wide array of high-performance computing applications for such as notebooks through to power-efficient, extreme performance-orientated network and enterprise devices.

The hard macro was developed using ARM Artisan 12-track libraries and the recently announced Processor Optimization Pack™ (POP) solution for the Cortex-A15 on TSMC 28nm HPM process. This follows the recent announcement of a broad suite of POPs for all Cortex-A series processors (see ARM Expands Processor Optimization Pack Solutions for TSMC 40nm and 28nm Process Variants, 16th April 2012)

Full configuration and implementation details will be presented at the Cool Chips conference (18-20 April) in Yokohama, Japan. Further information is contained in an accompanying blog.

"For SoC designers looking to make a trade-off between the flexibility offered by the traditional RTL-based SoC development strategy and a rapid time to market, with ensured, benchmarked power, performance and area, an ARM hard macro implementation is an ideal, cost-effective solution," said Jim Nicholas, vice president of Marketing, processor division, ARM. "This new Cortex-A15 hard macro is an important addition to our portfolio and will enable a wider array of partners to leverage the outstanding capabilities of the Cortex-A15 processor."