CHIP MAKER Texas Instruments (TI) has signed a deal with chip designer ARM to use the latest version of its Cortex processors.
The deal makes TI the first company to sign up with ARM, a British company that specialises in designing low power chips. The Cortex A had previously gone by the codename of Eagle, with TI wanting the core to form part of its upcoming OMAP chips. Those chips are typically found in mobile handsets.
ARM has enjoyed considerable success in the low power chip market, with a variant of its Cortex A8 chip powering Apple's Iphone 4 and Ipad, and Qualcomm's Snapdragon chip found in many Android devices also based on the same ARM core. Now it seems TI wanted to steal a march on Qualcomm and others by working directly with ARM to nail the specifications of the Cortex A chip just the way it likes.
Though ARM is likely to license its Cortex A chips to other vendors, TI will get the first crack at fabricating and flogging chips based on the design. TI said that its power management technology will help it get even more out of the Cortex A chip, claiming it will lead to "broader market application", suggesting that there's more to this low power chip lark than just shoving it in smartphones.
The two companies have been working on the Cortex A since last year, but only now has the partnership matured to producing something substantial. Mike Inglis, EVP and GM of ARM said that he expects the chip to be "at the heart of tomorrow's consumer-focused smart mobile products."
Of course this is still early days and a TI OMAP chip based on ARM's Cortex A architecture could be a year or so away from being soldered onto a circuit board destined for a smartphone or other mobile device. µ