updated 02:25 pm EST, Thu February 23, 2012
TI OMAP5 demo shows A15 more than 2X faster
TI has posted a demo video (below) of its OMAP5 processor in what could be a sign of how fast many next-generation processors will be next to even chips that have yet to arrive. Even clocked at just 800MHz with only two main cores, the use of ARM's new Cortex-A15 was able to run a web browser, MP3 playback, and downloading multitasking test more than twice as quickly as a quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor. While the A9 wasn't named, it was likely NVIDIA's 1.3GHz Tegra 3, showing how little clock speed mattered.
The OMAP5 is helped by having two Cortex-M4 cores, a pair of companions that can handle low-level tasks in the background. However, the Tegra 3 has its own fifth companion core, leaving it only as a partial factor. The A15's optimizations and a new 28 nanometer manufacturing process, versus the less efficient 40nm NVIDIA has to use, may have played large parts.
TI's design could be even faster in practice, as the OMAP5 can ramp up to 2GHz and will likely be faster than the 800MHz shown in the test.
While the performance is specific to the OMAP5, it shows a potential leapfrog where dual-core processors will completely eclipse current quad-core designs. TI doesn't expect its own chips to be in shipping products until late 2012 or early 2013, but others are known to be using the A15 earlier. Samsung's Exynos 5250 should be ready this spring.
Apple is likely to use the Cortex-A15 at some point. Some speculation has existed that the A6 (or A5X), if a dual-core chip, may use the A15 rather than try the quad-core route used by the Tegra 3. An early A15 could give a third-generation iPad or the fifth-generation iPhone an edge.