SAN FRANCISCO – ARM announced a new processor core, GPU core, and interconnect targeted for mobile SoCs. The 64-bit Cortex-A72 processor core, Mali-T880 graphics core, and CoreLink CCI-500 aim to power a new class of mobile devices that “serve as your primary and only compute platform.”
While slim on specs, ARM promises that its Cortex-A72 processor will deliver 3.5 times the performance of its Cortex-A15 devices while consuming 75% less power. ARM says its Mali-T880 graphics cores are similarly impressive in generation-over-generation improvements supporting resolutions up to 4K pixels at 120 frames/second.
The new version of the cache coherent CoreLink provides twice the memory bandwidth and 30% more performance as a processor/memory interconnect than ARM's earlier version. It also supports ARM's TrustZone for secure decoding of video from a Mali core.
Phones using the cores are expected in 2016 that deliver video with the quality of a set-top box, console-class gaming and virtual reality experiences while staying in a smartphone power budget, said Nandan Nayampally, an ARM vice president of marketing. ARM officials are banking on its wide ecosystem of partners to redirect content from PCs and TVs to the new handsets.
“I think ARM is throwing down a bit of a gauntlet saying they are going to be able to do all the content creation and the virtual reality and the other things that everybody thought they needed a midrange or high-end PC to do,” said Nathan Brookwood, principal of market watcher Insight64.
Several ARM partners in the film, communications, and gaming industries at an event here said they were encouraged by the ways the compute improvements and a power consumption decreases could affect their industries.
“We want to leverage the abilities on these devices to create what feels like a personal intelligent experiences…whether it’s a game, or virtual reality experience, or a film,” said Microsoft Outlook General Manager Javier Soltero. But “it’s going to take a while to get there,” he added.
Mobile users are demanding more, said Unity Technologies’ head of analytics. Gamers, for example, are no longer willing to compromise quality when switching between consoles and handsets, while longer gaming times require great smartphone performance.
An engineer from headset maker Oculus said the high level performance of Mali cores and their competitors allow for real time scheduling and other immersive experiences. Oculus uses a Cortex-M3 microcontroller from ST Micro in its Rift virtual-reality goggles. Samsung's version of the headset, co-developed with Oculus, runs on a Cortex A-15 and A7 and Mali cores in the Samsung Galaxy S4.
“We found some surprising things about mobile SoCs and GPUs that were very helpful in making virtual reality happen,” said Anuj Gosalia, Oculus director of development for mobile and PC software. “This gets us closer to the wish that we have — an untethered experience you can take wherever you go.”
In a panel discussion, industry officials hoped for even higher resolution screens with better refresh rates, recognition that goes beyond the face to include the whole body, and a computing device that creates rather than reads content.
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