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ARM unveils a pair of multi-core chips

Updated More oomph for 4G
Mon Jan 31 2011, 11:00

CHIP DESIGN OUTFIT ARM has announced its Cortex R5 MPcore and Cortex R7 MPcore processors.

ARM is pitching the Cortex R5 and Cortex R7 chips for use in 3G and 4G mobile baseband, mass storage, automotive and industrial markets. Both chips can be implemented as single or dual core designs, though the Cortex R7 chip has what ARM is calling "proven SMP multi-core technology".

The Cortex R5 builds on the previous generation Cortex R4 with ARM claiming higher performance, efficiency, reliability and error management, while the Cortex R7 "greatly extends the performance levels of the Cortex R series beyond any existing capabilities", according to the firm.

ARM puts the Cortex R7's performance down to out-of-order and superscalar execution, dynamic register renaming and improved branch prediction. There's also faster hardware support for arithmetic operations, which ARM claims meets the demands placed upon its chips by the latest smartphones and storage devices.

Richard York, director of product marketing at ARM, told The INQUIRER that latency reduction has become absolutely vital in the embedded market. He claimed that the Cortex R7 had "50 per cent higher real-time performance than previous generation ARM chips". 

York added that those customers who were using the Cortex R5 and considering the Cortex R7, "all were going to the dual core configuration" because running two cores at a lower voltage is more advantageous than a single, faster core at higher voltages.

Both Cortex R5 and R7 chips can throttle down cores and turn them off completely depending on usage scenarios. York claimed that having this performance on tap allows device manufacturers flexibility as real-time requirements become more demanding with the onset of Long Term Evolution and Long Term Evolution Advanced networks.  

Processors in the Cortex R series are binary compatible, with ARM touting the ability to swap out chips without having to reprogram software.

ARM's Cortex R5 and Cortex R7 chips are available for licensing from today and the firm says it has already signed up four tier one licensees in the mass storage, automotive and mobile baseband markets. µ



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