updated 08:10 am EDT, Wed September 16, 2009
ARM preps 2GHz Cortex A9
ARM this morning said it as developed a 2GHz, dual-core version of its Cortex-A9 architecture. The new design is intended to be built on a newer 40 nanometer (nm) manufacturing process and so achieves the added speed without consuming much if any extra power versus slower parts; ARM estimates just 0.25W per CPU. The design is pitched as ideal for particularly fast home devices that still need either to fit into tight spaces or to use little energy.
As it depends on other companies using its designs rather than making them itself, ARM expects TSMC, the primary company making 40nm chips, to handle the actual assembly. Companies can start licensing the design today, although actual deliveries won't start until the fall.
The 2GHz part is less likely to end up in smartphones but is potentially important for mobile Internet devices (MIDs), tablets and others that can afford any extra power or heat in return for more speed. The Archos 5 use a close relative, the Cortex-A8; Apple also uses a Cortex-A8 design from Samsung in the iPhone 3GS, though it already has to downclock its processor to 600MHz. Apple's widely rumored 10-inch tablet is believed to use ARM as its basis, but whether it uses a custom PA Semi design, a reference ARM design or a combination of the two is unclear.