ARM A7 and A15 for inexpensive, high power, low demand smartphones for everyone

Oct 20, 2011
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Cambridge-based mobile microchip industry crunching firm ARM has announced its A7 chip and the "big.LITTLE" processing to the world this week, and you already knew that from yesterday. What you might not have known, or perhaps realized, is that with A7 architecture in smart device, ARM is suggesting that a whole new generation of devices is on the way that will be below $100, this allowing large groups of people from the still without-smartphones world to join in on the fun. ARM, are you saying I'll finally be able to video chat with people who are living under the international poverty level?

We learned about the new A7 chip earlier this week and how it'll provide not only similar performance to the chips currently sitting inside devices such as the iPhone 4S and the Galaxy Nexus, but at a much lower cost in both cash to produce and power to run. ARM notes that inside the next two years, high-end smartphones will be bumping up to A15 architecture, this allowing much higher performance, but wont exactly work out so well for current battery technology.

It's physics though, people, physics, where batteries inside the science we understand today are simply not able to hold a bigger charge without endangering the user - explosions and meltdowns and all that. So the change must come, as ARM notes, in the processor. ARM claims that combining an A7 with an A15 using big.LITTLE processing, much more advanced apps than we're using today will be able to be working without depleting the life of our modern day batteries any more than we are now.

Warren East, ARM’s chief executive spoke this week with Telegraph.CO.UK about the situation, saying several bits:

"The sub-$100 price-point is when we can start talking about connecting the next billion people. … We have had to do this at the right time to ensure people could make money. We could have done it five years ago but nobody would have paid us. The demand is there now as applications become more demanding. In the time it has taken chip performance to improve 10 times, battery life has improved two times. The main requirement today is more miles per gallon." - East

With this proposed big.LITTLE system, there will be up to four A15 and A7 cores, this architecture already licensed to 14 chip makers at the time of this post. We'll be seeing this system in play sooner than later, to be sure!


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