ARM’s latest processor ‘most energy efficient’ yet

20 Oct 2011

ARM's latest processor 'most energy efficient' yet

ARM’s new smartphone processor, the Cortex-A7 MPCore, will offer five times the energy efficiency of its predecessor, providing an extended battery life and higher performance thanks to big.LITTLE processing.

The Cortex-A7 is just one-fifth the size of the ARM Cortex-A8 processor, yet is five times more energy efficient, according to ARM.

It occupies less than 0.5mm² of space, using 28nm process technology. It can perform in both single and multicore configurations.

Used as a stand-alone processor, it will bring the same processing experience from expensive high-end smartphones to budget versions costing less than US$100 by 2013, which are particularly popular in developing markets.

However, with ARM’s big.LITTLE processing, which combines the energy-efficient Cortex-A7 with the high-performance Cortex-A15 MPCore, a smartphone’s battery life can be extended while providing higher performance.

Big.LITTLE processing selects the right processor for the right task based on performance requirements. The lower-powered Cortex-A7 is the ‘LITTLE,’ which is used to run the OS and applications for basic always-on tasks, such as social media and music playback.

The OS and apps can be migrated to the heavy-duty processor – the Cortex-A15 MPCore – for more demanding tasks, such as navigation and gaming.

This switching gives users improved performance when they need it, and when they don’t, the battery life is extended.

Companies such as LG, Samsung, ST-Ericsson, Texas Instruments and Compal will support these technologies.