updated 01:00 pm EDT, Wed October 21, 2009
Cortex-A5 nearly ready for phones, PMPs
ARM used its presence at TechCon3 today to unveil a new processor architecture built to speed up lower-cost handhelds. The Cortex-A5 is about twice as power-efficient as older budget designs but shares many of the same foundations as fast processors like the Cortex-A8 found in the iPhone 3GS, including the NEON vector instructions that boost media and some other tasks. It can work either as a very low-power single-core design or scale up to quad-core for more demanding devices.
The performance is such that ARM expects a Cortex-A5 device to play video in Flash 10.1 without requiring an expensive processor. It should be inexpensive enough that budget smartphones, conventional phones, media players and others can get full Internet access and other features previously off-limits in the class.
Only Samsung has been named as a licensee of the design, but multiple firms are already known developing processors and should ship the first of these before the end of the year.