ARM unveils Cortex-A12 CPU and Mali-T622 GPU in expectation of a mid-range boom

Few trend-spotters would disagree with the following prediction from ARM, but it's worth laying it out anyway: Of the 300 million mobile devices sold in 2010, the majority cost over $400. Within the next two years, however, these "crazy money" products (as a spokesperson described them) may represent just 25 percent of the total mobile market -- still huge in absolute terms, since almost two billion phones and tablets are forecast to be sold in 2015, but a distinct minority relative to entry-level and mid-range options.

In an effort to convert these expectations into an even taller heap of gold, ARM has just announced a new mid-range core, the Cortex-A12, which is designed to replace the aging Cortex-A9 while offering a 40 percent boost in performance. This gain will likely come with the added advantage of better battery life, since the Cortex-A12 will initially be fabricated at 28nm instead of 40nm, and will be offered to manufacturers alongside a new Mali GPU (the Mali-T622) and video engine (Mali-V500) that promise further power savings of their own. The Cortex-A12 will also support big.LITTLE configurations, allowing it to be installed alongside Cortex-A7 cores that will take over for low-effort tasks in order make further power savings. Big.LITTLE hasn't really blown us away so far, at least not on the Octa-core Galaxy S 4, but its wrinkles may well have been ironed out by mid 2014, which is when the Cortex-A12 is due to land. Check out the PR for more technical details on each component.

Richard Lai contributed to this report. %Gallery-190050%

Show full PR text

ARM Targets 580 Million Mid-Range Mobile Devices with New Suite of IP

News Highlights:

· Faster time to market and less design risk with suite of IP including: ARM Cortex-A12 processor, Mali-T622 GPU, Mali-V500 video solution and POP IP technology;

· 580 million mid-range smartphones and tablets are forecast to be sold in 2015_[i];
· Cortex-A12 processor delivers 40 percent more performance than Cortex-A9 and brings premium features such as virtualization to the mid-range mobile device market; efficiency profile also makes it ideal for DTV and home networking;

· Cortex-A12 processor brings optimum performance and maximum efficiency of big.LITTLE processing to mid-range smartphones and tablets;

· Mali-T622 GPU offers an efficient and qualified OpenGL ES 3.0 solution and smallest Full Profile GPU Compute solution, putting even greater compute power into the hands of more mobile users;

· Mali-V500 video IP solution reduces system bandwidth and power, while enabling the protection of premium video content with TrustZone support.

Cambridge, UK and Taipei – 3 June 2013: Today at Computex, ARM announced an optimized IP solution designed to power the 580 million mid-range mobile devices expected over the next two years. The mid-range market is projected to exceed the number of premium smartphones and tablets beginning in 2015. Targeted at the mid-range market, this new suite of ARM IP is optimized for power, performance and die size. Used together, this suite of IP will provide consumers with premium features like virtualization, big.LITTLE processing and GPU compute at mid-range price points.

The suite extends the ARM® Cortex®-A processor and ARM Mali™-T GPU series with the Cortex-A12 processor and Mali-T622 GPU and introduces a new video IP product, the Mali-V500. With support from ARM POP™ technology and the ARM Development Studio 5 (DS-5™) toolchain, ARM partners can deliver smartphones and tablets with higher efficiency and reduced time to market. Partners will announce their plans in due course, but ARM expects this IP solution will be in mobile devices by mid-2014.

"Mobile users expect a range of devices at different price points and for a mid-range mobile experience to include some high end mobile features. With a billion smartphones predicted to ship in 2013 and tablets projected to out-ship notebook PCs, device-makers can now provide quality, high-performance mobile products with the features that matter the most, at a range of price points," said Ian Drew, chief marketing officer and executive vice president, ARM. "The market is evolving at an amazing rate and there is now a choice of solutions for semiconductor companies and for mobile device-makers. Our suite of optimized IP expands the choice for the mid-range mobile market."

Bringing Premium Features to the Mid-Range
The energy-saving technology known as ARM big.LITTLE™ processing is only just coming to high-end devices today, but now can be designed into mid-range smartphones, allowing users to do more with their devices. The Cortex-A12 processor offers ARM partners a 40 percent performance uplift in the same power envelope when compared to the successful Cortex-A9 processor. The Cortex-A12 processor builds on best-in-class efficiency as a standalone solution and additionally supports the innovative big.LITTLE™ processing technology with the Cortex-A7 processor. The Cortex-A12 introduces features found in premium smartphones and tablets to mid-range devices, including virtualization. Additional information for the Cortex-A12 processor can be found here.

Ready for the Next Graphics Standards
The Mali-T622 GPU, is OpenGL ES 3.0 conformant, supports the Renderscript and OpenCL™ APIs, and is the smallest full profile GPU Compute solution available for mobile devices. The Mali-T622 GPU brings a rich, visual experience to mid-range mobile devices with functionality only now becoming available in the highest-end premium smartphones and tablets. It does all of this while providing a 50 percent energy-efficiency improvement over first-generation Mali-T600 series products. A closer look at the Mali-T622 GPU can be found here.

High-Quality Video in Mid-range Mobile
The energy-efficient Mali-V500 video solution provides dedicated video processing and reduces system bandwidth requirements by more than 50 percent_[ii] compared to currently available solutions. The Mali-V500 is a multicore video solution, scaling from a single core capable of 1080p/60 encode and decode to multiple cores supporting ultra-high definition 4K at a blistering 120 frames per second. Additionally, the Mali-V500 video solution was architected with support for TrustZone® security technology enabling efficient, hardware-backed security for movie and TV content from download to display. More details on the Mali-V500 video solution are available here.

ARM Brings it all Together
ARM is best positioned to ensure its IP can be combined together for optimal performance with minimal energy consumption across the entire SoC, thus allowing every task to be run on the right processor. System advances include:
· ARM POP IP supports leading 28-nanometer foundry processes. ARM POP IP is the only implementation solution which is co-developed and co-optimized, offering the best design points and fastest time to market for the Cortex-A12 processor and Mali-T622 GPU. More information on ARM POP IP, featuring Artisan® physical IP, available for this optimized suite can be found here.
· ARM DS-5 toolchain to support development and optimization of software for systems based on the Cortex-A12 processor, Mali-T622 GPU, and CoreLink CCI-400 cache coherent interconnect. Complemented by the addition of the ARM Fast Models simulation library, the DS-5 toolchain enables early software development and system-wide performance and power optimization. Learn more about system software optimization here.
"The immense success of Cortex-A9 processor-based SoCs, and the demand for highest performance at best energy efficiency, makes the new Cortex-A12 processor the perfect choice for VIA and will help drive our strong commitment to provide leading-edge platforms for our partners and the ARM ecosystem. The premium feature set of the Cortex-A12 processor will enable new use cases previously only limited to high-end devices and will allow the mid-range mobile device segment to continue growing rapidly," said Tzu-Mu Lin, senior vice president, VIA Technologies.

Tweet this story

About ARM

ARM designs the technology that is at the heart of advanced digital products, from wireless, networking and consumer entertainment solutions to imaging, automotive, security and storage devices. ARM's comprehensive product offering includes RISC microprocessors, graphics processors, video engines, enabling software, cell libraries, embedded memories, high-speed connectivity products, peripherals and development tools. Combined with comprehensive design services, training, support and maintenance, and the company's broad Partner community, they provide a total system solution that offers a fast, reliable path to market for leading electronics companies. Find out more about ARM by following these links: