updated 04:57 pm EDT, Tue October 30, 2012
New 64-bit chips slated to debut in 2014
ARM today announced a new processor series based on the ARMv8 architecture, the Cortex-A50. The new series will initially include the Cortex-A53 and Cortex-A57 processors, and it will bring to bear energy-efficient technologies enabling 64-bit processing in mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. ARM says the new designs should enable performance up to three times that seen in today's "superphones" while consuming a comparable level of power.
The new processors will be compatible with 32-bit ARM applications, and they can operate separately or they can be arranged in what ARM calls a big.LITTLE configuration, wherein the most tasks can be handled by the A53 and the more powerful A57 only kicks in when needed for heavier work. Such an arrangement would enable SoCs to handle heavy workloads while still conserving power.
ARM doesn't manufacture physical chips, but it designs processor types and makes those designs available for other manufacturers such as AMD and Samsung. Industry observers don't expect the new ARM designs to show up in Qualcomm or Apple devices any time soon, as those manufacturers have committed to designing their own ARM-based processors.
ARM expects its partners to ship Cortex-A50 series-based chips in 2014. ARMv8 open source operating system, toolchains, and foundation models are now available.