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ARM unveils Cortex-A5

Low cost chip promises Internet everywhere
Wed Oct 21 2009, 12:16

CHIP DESIGNER ARM has added the Cortex-A5 to its stable, coming in to replace its current ARM9 and ARM11 chips.

The Cortex-A5 is designed for mass market connected devices such as ultra low cost handsets, feature phones and smart mobile devices as well as embedded consumer and industrial devices.

Chips based on the new design will typically be based on a 40nm process and promise around three times the performance of ARM9 while using a third of the power of ARM11 chips.

The A5 can be used an extremely area- and power-efficient uniprocessor or up to four of them can linked together into a multi-core design.

"The Cortex-A5 processor scales from ultra low cost handsets and lifestyle internet devices all the way to consumer, embedded, and industrial devices - anything that can be connected to the internet," said Eric Schorn, vice president of marketing for the Processor Division of ARM.

According to Schorn around 15 billion ARM based processors have been shipped to date and the company expects the next 15 billion to go in the next four years.

"The launch of the Cortex-A5 processor reinforces ARM's leadership in innovation and technology, and sets a new standard for cost-effectiveness and power-efficiency in entry-level mobile devices," said Nathan Brookwood, research fellow at Insight 64.

"The performance of the Cortex-A5 processor, when combined with Adobe's recently-announced support for Cortex-A profile processors in Flash Player 10.1, will allow users of ARM processor-based systems to view the same internet video content previously accessible only to users of x86-based systems."

As well as being smaller and more power efficient than its predecessors, the Cortex-A5 processor bundles in ARM's TrustZone security technology for secure financial transactions, DRM and near field communication.

The A5 design also includes the NEON multimedia processing engine, a 128-bit Single Instruction, Multiple Data architecture extension for the Cortex-A series processors that promises a performance boost of 30 to 35 percent on H.264 video.

The Cortex-A5 processor is architecturally and application compatible with its big brothers, Cortex-A8 and A9, making it easier for developers to design platforms and applications that operate across a wide range of devices.

General licensing is available now, but according to ARM several lead licensees are already developing mass-market silicon based on The Cortex-A5 with products due to land before the end of the year. µ


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