Usually, ARM is not advertised on your new smartphone or tablet's spec sheets but it's a critical business. It provides the designs that chipmakers like Qualcomm, Huawei, and Samsung use to create system-on-a-chip designs that power almost every mobile phone and tablet - and increasingly, laptops like the Surface Pro X.
Arm replaces CPU and GPU flagships, and more: Arm has announced flagship processors for phones: Cortex-X1 CPU, Cortex-A78 CPU, Mali-G78 GPU and Ethos-N78 neural network processor (NPU). Offered as part of Arm’s custom programme,- https://t.co/oXQeM4MR7r » @ElectronicsNews pic.twitter.com/YVroP70ITd— Jack Warner (@warnerjack12) May 26, 2020
For example, Qualcomm's Snapdragon 865 uses partially customized versions of the ARM Cortex-A77 and Cortex-A55 designs for its Kryo 585 CPU, while Samsung's Exynos 990 uses both Cortex-A76 and Cortex-A55 CPU cores and a Mali-G77 GPU.
According to ARM, the Cortex-A78 CPU core design is "unquestionably our most efficient Cortex-A CPU ever built for mobile use." Compared to last year's Cortex-A77 design, it features a 20 per cent increase in "sustained performance," while remaining within a 1-watt power budget.
ARM says the performance should allow for greater efficiency in demanding 5 G battery drains. The new CPU design should also be particularly suitable for computationally hungry foldable devices with multiple and larger screens.
ARM is also introducing a new customized Cortex-X program for its partners to create their own specialized Cortex CPU together with ARM for their specific purposes beyond the Cortex-A78 stock. The first of these chips is the ARM Cortex-X1, which ARM says will offer an improved peak performance of up to 30 per cent compared to the Cortex-A77.
There are a couple of new mobile GPUs, too. The top-of-the-line Mali-G78 supports up to 24 cores, which ARM promises will enable it to offer a 25 percent increase in graphics performance compared to the Mali-G77 in last year. There's also the first GPU in a new midrange tier, the Mali-G68, which is intended to help deliver some of the Mali-G78's performance and improvement in a more affordable package.
Finally, ARM is also introducing a new neural processing unit Ethos-N78 (NPU), promising up to 25 percent improved performance efficiency over the Ethos-N77, which should translate into better performance of mobile devices in machine learning.
So, while it's going to be some time before these designs end up on a smartphone or tablet, expect to hear those names appear later this year in SoC announcements and early 2021 in flagship phones. It's still a really exciting early look at what the next generation of flagship phones can do.
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