ARM Unveils Cortex-A9 Processors for Scalable Performance and Low-Power Designs

CAMBRIDGE, October 3 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ --

- First Fully Synthesizable Single and Multicore Processors Capable of Delivering More Than 8000 Aggregate DMIPS of Performance and Mobile-Level Power Efficiency to a Wide Range of Applications

ARM [; (NASDAQ: ARMHY)] today launched its new Cortex(TM)-A9 processors at the fourth annual ARM(R) Developers' Conference, in Santa Clara, California. The ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore(TM) multicore processor and ARM Cortex-A9 single core processor deliver unprecedented performance within tight power constraints for innovative devices that deliver superior overall functionality, such as smartphones, connected mobile computers, consumer electronics, automotive infotainment, networking and other embedded and enterprise devices.

ARM also announced today that several Partners have already selected the Cortex-A9 processors, including NEC Electronics, NVIDIA, Samsung, STMicroelectronics and Texas Instruments.

The new Cortex-A9 processors are compatible with other Cortex family processors and the popular ARM MPCore technology, thereby inheriting a rich ecosystem of OS/RTOS, middleware and applications to lower the costs associated with adopting a new processor.

The Cortex-A9 processors deliver highly scalable and power-efficient solutions by leveraging for the first time key microarchitectural advances. Utilizing a dynamic length, 8-stage superscalar, multi-issue pipeline with speculative out-of-order execution, it is capable of executing up to four instructions per cycle in devices clocked at more than 1GHz while also providing reductions in the cost and inefficiencies of today's leading 8-stage processors.

ARM MPCore Technology

The widely-adopted ARM MPCore technology increases performance scalability and control over power consumption to exceed the performance of today's comparable high-performance devices while remaining within the tight mobile power constraints. To date, ARM MPCore technology has been licensed by more than ten companies including NEC Electronics, NVIDIA, Renesas Technology and Sarnoff Corporation and has been in silicon production since 2005.

The Cortex-A9 MPCore multicore processor was developed to deliver the next generation of the MPCore technology to a breadth of new application markets by further optimizing and extending this technology. In addition, to simplify and broaden the adoption of multicore solutions, the Cortex-A9 MPCore processor supports system-level coherence with accelerators and DMA to further increase performance and reduce power consumption at the system level.

The Cortex-A9 single core processor was developed for simplified design migration and reduced time-to-market of high-performance, cost-sensitive applications such as feature phones and other low cost embedded devices. Each processor is available with ARM Advantage(TM) standard cells and memories for a traditional and convenient synthesizable flow and provides increased levels of power efficiency within a similar silicon cost and power budgets to the previous ARM11 family processors.

"ARM continues to raise the bar in performance for mobile and battery operated applications with its Cortex family by introducing the ARM Cortex-A9 microprocessors," said Mario Morales, Vice President, Semiconductors at market research firm IDC. "The new processor options include multicore support for the Cortex family, which we expect will help extend the range in performance and power to address requirements by OEMs for next generation devices in terms of scale and features. By focusing on system level performance and lower power, the ARM Cortex-A9 processors can support the growing demand for multicore architectures that are enabling converged services and devices."

"ARM technology remains at the heart of breakthrough products designed to meet growing consumer requirements in a broad section of applications including smartphones, connected mobile computers and consumer electronics," said Mike Inglis, EVP, Sales and Marketing, ARM. "In 2005 we introduced the highly successful Cortex-A8 processor which is being used by multiple Partners to support a diverse mix of innovative end products starting in 2007/8. In 2007, ARM takes a further step forward by introducing the Cortex-A9 processors. These will allow further innovation with efficient, cost-sensitive uniprocessor and high-performance multicore implementations for end equipment in the 2009/10 timeframe. This new technology enables ARM Partners to continue to maintain leadership in multiple application areas including the emerging connected mobile computing market."

Cortex-A9 Processor Benefits

The Cortex-A9 processors are the first synthesizable ARM processors capable of delivering more than 8000 aggregate DMIPS for demanding high performance, consumer and enterprise applications while also providing a significant performance increase over today's handsets when implemented within the very tight 250mW mobile power budget. For 2000 DMIPS of performance when designed in a TSMC 65 nanometer (nm) generic process the core logic costs less than 1.5 mm2 of silicon. This scalable performance from 2000-8000 DMIPs is 4-16x what is found in today's high end phones or set top boxes and will allow end users to instantly view complex, multimedia enabled web pages and make the most of Web 2.0 applications, enjoy photorealistic graphics and gaming, open complex attachments quickly or edit media files.

The Cortex-A9 MPCore processor is the first ARM processor to combine the Cortex application class architecture with multiprocessing capabilities for scalable performance and provides enhanced multicore technology that includes:

    - NAK Accelerator Coherence Port (ACP) for increased system performance
      and lower system power

    - NAK Advanced Bus Interface Unit for low latency in high bandwidth
      devices

    - NAK Multicore TrustZone(R) technology with interrupt virtualization to
      enable hardware based security and enhanced paravirtualization
      solutions

    - NAK Generalized Interrupt Controller (GIC) for software portability and
      optimized multicore communication

During the development of the multicore benchmarking framework developed by the industry-led Embedded Microprocessor Benchmark Consortium (EEMBC), the Cortex-A9 MPCore multicore processor demonstrated near linear scalability in a variety of benchmarks, with additional processor units providing up to four times the performance of a comparable single core processor.

Complete System Solution

Both ARM Cortex-A9 processors include the ARM application specific architecture extensions, including DSP and SIMD extensions and Jazelle(R), TrustZone, and Intelligent Energy Manager (IEM(TM)) technologies. In addition, ARM has developed a full range of supporting technology around the new processor to reduce design time and accelerate time-to-market. This complete system solution comprises:

    - Floating-Point Unit (FPU): The Cortex-A9 FPU provides
      high-performance single and double precision floating-point
      instructions.

    - Media Processing: The Cortex-A9 NEON Media Processing Engine (MPE)
      offers the performance and functionality of the Cortex-A9 FPU plus
      the ARM NEON advanced SIMD instruction set first introduced with the
      Cortex-A8 processor for accelerated media and signal processing
      functions.

    - Physical IP: Providing a wide range of standard cell libraries and
      memories required for low-power and high-performance implementations
      on a Cortex-A9 processor. The standard cells include power management
      kits that enable dynamic and leakage power saving techniques such as
      clock gating, multi-voltage islands and power gating. The memory
      compilers are also offered with advanced power-saving features.

    - Fabric IP: The Cortex-A9 processor is supported by a comprehensive
      set of PrimeCell(R) fabric IP components including a dynamic memory
      controller, a static memory controller, an AMBA(R) 3 AXI configurable
      interconnect and an optimized L2 Cache Controller to match the
      performance and throughput capability of the Cortex-A9 processors in
      high frequency designs.

    - Graphics Acceleration: the combination of ARM Mali(TM) graphics
      processing units with the Cortex-A9 processor will enable SoC Partners
      to create highly integrated system level solutions, bringing optimal
      size, performance and system bandwidth benefits.

    - System Design: The ARM RealView(R) SoC Designer tool provides rapid
      architectural optimization and performance analysis and enables early
      development of software drivers and timing critical code long before
      hardware is available. The RealView System Generator tool offers
      ultra-fast modeling  capability  for  deployment  of  Cortex-A9
            processor-based  virtual  platforms.  Cycle  based  and  programmers'  view
            models  of  the  Cortex-A9  processor,  for  use  in  RealView  tools,  will  be
            available  in  2Q  2008.

        -  Debug:  The  ARM  CoreSight(TM)  on-chip  technology  speeds  complex  debug
            and  reduces  time-to-market.  The  Program  Trace  Macrocell  technology
            enables  program-flow  trace  capabilities  for  full  visibility  into  the
            processor's  instruction  flow,  and  implements  the  ARMv7
            architecture-compliant  debug  interface  to  enable  tools  standardization
            and  higher  debug  performance.  The  CoreSight  design  kit  for  the
            Cortex-A9  processor  extends  the  debug  and  trace  capability  to  cover
            the  entire  system-on-chip  including  multiple  ARM  processors,  DSPs,  and
            intelligent  peripherals.

        -  Software  Development:  The  ARM  RealView  Development  Suite  includes
            advanced  code  generation  tools  that  deliver  exceptional  performance
            and  unmatched  code  density  for  the  Cortex-A9  processors.  The  tools
            also  support  vectorizing  compilation  for  the  NEON  media  and  signal
            processing  extensions,  enabling  developers  to  achieve  product  and
            project  cost  reductions  through  the  elimination  of  separate  DSPs.
            Cortex-A9  MPCore  multicore  processor  debug  including  advanced  cross
            triggering  is  supported  by  the  RealView  ICE  and  Trace  products.  The
            Cortex-A9  processor  is  also  supported  by  a  range  of  hardware
            development  boards  supporting  system  prototyping  in  FPGA  and  software
            development.

 


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