Low power chip designer ARM is taking aim at the mid-range mobile device market with its latest CPU and graphics technology. The company’s ARM Cortex-A17 processor designs and Mali-T720 graphics technology and Mali-V500 video processor should all be ready to go by 2015.
ARM doesn’t make its own chips, but instead licenses its technology to hardware makers who produce their own processors based on the designs. Chip makers MediaTek and Realtek are among the first to start working on Cortex-A17 designs.
ARM says the Cortex-A17 processor will offer about 60 percent more performance than an ARM Cortex-A9 chip such as a Rockchip RK3188, NVIDIA Tegra 3, or Samsung Exynos 4412 processor.
In other words, next year’s mid-range phones and tablets could be significantly more powerful than last year’s top-tier devices.
The chips also support ARM’s big.LITTLE technology which pairs high-performance CPU cores with lower-power CPU cores enabling devices to prioritize battery life or performance on an as-needed basis.
In this case, it looks like ARM expects device makers to offer big.LITTLE chips that pair ARM Cortex-A17 CPU cores with Cortex-A7 cores for anywhere from quad-core to octa-core chips.
The company’s Mali-T720 graphics processor supports OpenGL ES 3.0 and OpenCL while the Mali-V500 video processor can handle 4K video playback.
It’s not clear from ARM’s press release how the Cortex-A17 will compare with the company’s existing designs, but AnandTech reports the chip seems to be an updated version of the mid-range Cortex-A12 rather than a replacement for the high-end Cortex-A15.
Meanwhile the company’s upcoming Cortex-A50 series chips will be the first based on ARMv8 architecture and 64-bit technology. The first of those chips are expected to launch this year, with more powerful models coming in 2015.