ARM unveils new high end mobile chip, the Cortex A72

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By Larry Banks

British semiconductor design company ARM (LON: ARM) is synonymous with mobile CPUs that are used in everything from smartphones to tablets. Its efficient designs are used in just about every smartphone, thanks to their power-sipping requirements compared to chips from other companies such as Intel.

ARM unveils the Cortex A72

The company chose to unveil the new mobile CPU at its Tech Day event in London, where it detailed its new high-performance CPU core: the Cortex A72. Put simply, it’s faster, more efficient and a smaller version of the Cortex A57.

The first 16 nanometre FinFET mobile chips with the Cortex A72 CPU will probably ship in 2016, fabricated by TSMC of Taiwan. As put by Mike Filippo, ARM’s chief architect for the Cortex A72, “Our focus on A72 was to achieve next-gen performance and pull a ton of power out of the design. We did that in spades”.

Here’s a quick rundown of the features, courtesy of ARM:

ARM Cortex A72 Basics

For the technically-inclined, the Cortex A72 CPU pairs a three-wide, in-order front end with a five-wide, out-of-order back end. This is much wider than the A57, which means much higher single-threaded performance can be achieved. Besides the new architecture, ARM says it has “re-optimized every logical block from Cortex A57” to reduce the power consumption and area, which then reduces static power loss through leakages.

ARM Cortex A72 Intro

A match for Intel’s Broadwell?

It is likely that we’ll see new smartphones next year will make use of the new chip. But ARM also claims that in certain situations, its performance is even on a par with the latest Broadwell chips from Intel, further making ARM’s chips edge that closer to being used on day in laptops (as it’s rumoured that customised ARM designs will eventually be used by Apple to power its thin-and-light laptops). That day isn’t here yet, but the Cortex A72 seems to be well on its way towards that eventuality.

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