ARM Releases Cortex-A72 for Licensing
On February 3rd, ARM announced a slew of new designs, including the Cortex A72. Few details were shared with us, but what we learned was that it could potentially redefine power and performance in the ARM ecosystem. Ryan was invited to London to participate in a deep dive of what ARM has done to improve its position against market behemoth Intel in the very competitive mobile space. Intel has a leg up on process technology with their 14nm Tri-Gate process, but they are continuing to work hard in making their x86 based processors more power efficient, while still maintaining good performance. There are certain drawbacks to using an ISA that is focused on high performance computing rather than being designed from scratch to provide good performance with excellent energy efficiency.
ARM has been on a pretty good roll with their Cortex A9, A7, A15, A17, A53, and A57 parts over the past several years. These designs have been utilized in a multitude of products and scenarios, with configurations that have scaled up to 16 cores. While each iteration has improved upon the previous, ARM is facing the specter of Intel’s latest generation, highly efficient x86 SOCs based on the 2nd gen 14nm Tri-Gate process. Several things have fallen into place for ARM to help them stay competitive, but we also cannot ignore the experience and design hours that have led to this product.
(Editor's Note: During my time with ARM last week it became very apparent that it is not standing still, not satisfied with its current status. With competition from Intel, Qualcomm and others ramping up over the next 12 months in both mobile and server markets, ARM will more than ever be depedent on the evolution of core design and GPU design to maintain advantages in performance and efficiency. As Josh will go into more detail here, the Cortex-A72 appears to be an incredibly impressive design and all indications and conversations I have had with others, outside of ARM, believe that it will be an incredibly successful product.)
Cortex A72: Highest Performance ARM Cortex
ARM has been ubiquitous for mobile applications since it first started selling licenses for their products in the 90s. They were found everywhere it seemed, but most people wouldn’t recognize the name ARM because these chips were fabricated and sold by licensees under their own names. Guys like Ti, Qualcomm, Apple, DEC and others all licensed and adopted ARM technology in one form or the other.
ARM’s importance grew dramatically with the introduction of increased complexity cellphones and smartphones. They also gained attention through multimedia devices such as the Microsoft Zune. What was once a fairly niche company with low performance, low power offerings became the 800 pound gorilla in the mobile market. Billions of chips are sold yearly based on ARM technology. To stay in that position ARM has worked aggressively on continually providing excellent power characteristics for their parts, but now they are really focusing on overall performance and capabilities to address, not only the smartphone market, but also the higher performance computing and server spaces that they want a significant presence in.
Subject: General Tech, Systems | July 14, 2013 - 11:51 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: utilite, ubuntu, silent, SFF, linux, fanless, cortex-a9, compulab, arm, Android
CompuLab has announced a new fanless, small form factor PC called the Utilite. This new PC comes from the same company that engineered the MintBox, MintBox 2, and Fit PC series. The Utilite is a low-power desktop PC powered by a quad core ARM Cortex A9 processor and runs either Ubuntu Linux or Google’s Android operating system.
The upcoming Utilite measures 5.3” x 3.9” x 0.8”(135 x 100 x 21mm) and consumes anywhere between 3W and 8W of power depending on the particular hardware configuration. It is designed to be a quiet desktop replacement with plenty of IO.
CompuLab will provide single core, dual core, and quad core CPU SKUs. Specifically, the Utilite is powered by a Freescale i.MX6 ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore processor that is clocked at up to 1.2 GHz. Users will be able to further configure the system with up to 4GB of DDR3 1066 MHz memory and a 512GB mSATA SSD. Storage can be further expanded using Micro SD-XC cards (maximum of 128GB per card). The GPU in the SoC is compatible with OpenGL ES 1.1 and 2.0 as well as OpenVG 1.1 and OpenCL EP. It is capable of hardware decoding multi-stream 1080p video in a variety of common formats.
Wireless functionality includes an 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi card and Bluetooth 3.0.
The Utilite has a dark gray case with silver front and rear bezels.
The front of the Utilite PC features the following IO options in addition to the power button and indicator LEDs.
- 1 x USB OTG (Micro USB)
- 1 x RS232 (ultra mini serial connector)
- 1 x Micro SD card slot
- 2 x USB 2.0
- 2 x 3.5mm audio jacks (line in, line out)
The rear of the PC hosts:
- 1 x DC power input
- 1 x Wi-Fi antenna
- 1 x RS232 (ultra mini serial connector)
- 2 x USB 2.0
- 2 x Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 jacks
- 2 x HDMI video outputs
According to fanless PC guru FanlessTech, CompuLab will be releasing the ARM-powered Utilite mini PC next month with a starting price of $99 and a variety of SKUs with varying amounts of CPU cores, memory, and storage. The Utilite PC is a bit on the expensive side, but this is a system for industrial and enterprise use as well as consumers, and Olivier from FanlessTech notes that build quality should be on par with those goals/industry aims.
Subject: Mobile | August 21, 2012 - 04:00 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: tegra 3, Samsung, nvidia, Exynos 4412, cortex-a9, arm
The participants in this System on a Chip showdown both bear long names, on one side is NVIDIA's Tegra 3 ARM SoC and on the other the ODROID-X Samsung Exynos 4412 quad-core ARM Cortex-A9. NVIDIA's offering is well known by now but the ODROID-X is a relative newcomer to the market, offering their product for about $130. After setting up Linux on these systems Phoronix got to benchmarking and the results will surprise NVIDIA fans as the ARM based system actually came out on top on quite a few of the tests.
"While not as popular as NVIDIA's Tegra 3 ARM SoC, the Samsung Exynos 4412 quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 found on cheaply priced ODROID-X can actually outperform the quad-core NVIDIA ARM processor. Here are benchmarks of the $129 USD ODROID-X benchmarked against the NVIDIA Tegra 3 reference tablet and a PandaBoard ES running the Texas Instruments OMAP4460."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- Asus N56VZ-DS71 Review @ TechReviewSource
- iBuyPower Valkyrie CZ-17 Notebook Review: MSI and iBuyPower Tangle With Alienware @ AnandTech
- Samsung Series 7 NP700Z7C @ AnandTech
- Dell Latitude E6430 Review @ TechReviewSource
- Acer TimelineU M5 Review: A 15-inch, 5lb Ultrabook @ TechSpot
- Zero Halliburton S1 @ Phoronix
- Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 vs Toshiba AT300 review: old versus new @ Hardware.info
- Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 @ The Inquirer
- Wacom Intuos5 touch Medium Tablet Review @ Techgage
Subject: General Tech | July 6, 2012 - 02:22 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Calexda, arm, cortex-a9, ECX-1000
Looking at the picture below you can see what Calxeda's ARM based server node will look like, an add-in card which requires two PCIe 2.0 slots to communicate with the mainboard. On the node are four Cortex A9 CPUs, each with two PCI-Express 2.0 controllers, a DDR3 memory controller, and a SATA 2.0 disk controller, as well as an integrated Layer 2 distributed fabric switch for ethernet connectivity. The mainboard these are connected to does very little, this server will depend on ethernet for its interconnect for now but it is likely that they will find something else to use though they may end up needing to license from AMD or Intel.
The Register took a look at the comparative benchmarks which came with this release, an Intel Xeon E3-1240 with one Ethernet port and 16GB of DDR3 which should be roughly equivalent to the new HP Redstone servers. They had some questions about the methodology used for the power usage on the Intel system as it was not describing the most power efficient usage of the Intel system and perhaps was not representative of the Intel system they actually benchmarked at all. Check out the benchmark as well as Calxeda's response in the full article.
"Calxeda, the ARM server-chip upstart that HP tapped for its "Redstone" hyperscale servers last November, is getting ready to ramp up production on the server cards that use its quad-core EnergyCore ARM processors, and is making waves with benchmarks while promising to do a better job with comparative testing against x86 architectures."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Tyan has server options at Computex @ SemiAccurate
- Seagate cuts revenue forecast despite record unit sales @ The Register
- DNSchanger shutdown may kick 300,000 offline on Monday @ The Register
- Netgear R6300 802.11ac router review @ Hardware.Info
Subject: Processors | June 26, 2012 - 05:08 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: arm, cortex-a9, e-350, i7-3770k, z530, Ivy Bridge, atom, Zacate
Taking a half dozen PandaBoard ESes from Texas Instruments that have a 1.2GHz dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor onboard, Phoronix built a 12-core ARM machine to test out against AMD's E-350 APU as well as Intel's Atom Z530 and a Core i7 3770K. Before you you make the assumption that the ARM's will be totally outclassed by any of these processors, Phoronix is testing performance per Watt and the ARM system uses a total of 31W when fully stressed and idles below 20W, which gives ARM a big lead on power consumption.
Phoronix tested out these four systems and the results were rather surprising as it seems Intel's Ivy Bridge is a serious threat to ARM. Not only did it provide more total processing power, its performance per Watt tended to beat ARM and more importantly to many, it is cheaper to build an i7-3770K system than it is to set up a 12-core ARM server. The next generation of ARM chips have some serious competition.
"Last week I shared my plans to build a low-cost, 12-core, 30-watt ARMv7 cluster running Ubuntu Linux. The ARM cluster that is built around the PandaBoard ES development boards is now online and producing results... Quite surprising results actually for a low-power Cortex-A9 compute cluster. Results include performance-per-Watt comparisons to Intel Atom and Ivy Bridge processors along with AMD's Fusion APU."
Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:
- AMD FX-8120 Black Edition CPU Review (with Asus M5A99X EVO) @ Kitguru
- Intel Core i7-3720QM: Mobile Ivy Bridge @ Techspot
- Sandy Bridge for servers: Intel Xeon E5-2600 review @ Hardware.Info
- Desktop CPU Comparison Guide @ TechARP
- Workstation & Server CPU Comparison Guide @ TechARP
- Mobile CPU Comparison Guide @ TechARP
Subject: General Tech | April 16, 2012 - 01:47 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: arm, TSMC, fab, cortex a15, cortex-a9, 28nm, 40nm
ARM has developed some optimizations for their chips, provided that the customer purchasing them uses TSMC to fabricate them. ARM has licensed a large variety of fabrication companies to produce their chips but with their familiarity with TSMC's 28nm and 40nm processes they have been able to introduce performance enhancing optimizations specific to TSMC. It could taste a bit like favouritism but is much more likely to stem from the volume of TSMC's production as well as the maturity of the 40nm process node. The 28nm node could be a bit of a problem for ARM as we have seen that TSMC is not having an easy time producing enough good dies for their customers; this is why you cannot buy a GTX 680. As The Inquirer points out, if ARM wants to make sure their customers can get their hands on reasonable volumes of chips, they will want to create optimizations specific to other manufacturers sooner rather than later.
"CHIP DESIGNER ARM has released a slew of optimisation packs for Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company's (TSMC) 28nm and 40nm process nodes.
ARM, which licenses designs to many chip designers, including Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, Nvidia and Samsung, has given TSMC a boost by offering processor optimisation packs for the firm's 28nm and 40nm process nodes. ARM claims the optimisation packs for its Cortex-A5, Cortex-A7, Cortex-A9 and Cortex-A15 processor cores help designers make use of TSMC's process node nuances to get the most out of their designs."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Samsung Push Intel At DDR4 @ Kitguru
- TSMC in race to buy ProMOS fab @ DigiTimes
- Tiny Quadcopter gets an update, on the verge of flying without PC @ Hack a Day
- Mavericks Invent Future Internet Where Cisco Is Meaningless @ Wired
- Hands-on: getting work done with Google's new Aura interface for Chrome OS @ Ars Technica
- Brite-Strike Lightning Strike Tactical Flashlight Review @ Techwarelabs
- A walk about Gadget Show Live 2012 @ XtremeComputing
Subject: Systems | January 9, 2012 - 04:03 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: arm, cortex-a9, Tegra 2, compulab, thin-slice, nettop
If you need only moderate processing power and need a small footprint then CompuLab might just have the system for you. Their Trim-Slice nettop is powered by NVIDIA's Tegra 2 a 1GHZ dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 and 1GB of DDR2 RAM, with a SATA HDD. It has four USB 2.0 ports, WiFi and a wired NIC, two HDMI ports and a S/PDIF in port, which ought to handle what you need from this system. It comes with Ubuntu 11.04 for ARMv7, which Phoronix points out is obsolete and recommends updating to a newer version. The system is comparable to Atom based machines in performance and in price, a basic 1GB system is $213USD while the model Phoronix reviewed would cost you about $100 more. Read on to see how it did in the benchmarks.
"The Trim-Slice from CompuLab is a dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 nettop based on the NVIDIA Tegra 2 platform. In this article are our first Ubuntu benchmarks of this low power, fan-less desktop with comparative figures to Intel's older platforms and the OMAP4660-based dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 PandaBoard ES."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- ARM Cortex-A9 PandaBoard ES Benchmarks @ Phoronix
- Building a BitTorrent Rig with the Zotac ZBOX Nano Plus @ Legit Reviews
- Acer Aspire Z5771-UR31P Review @ TechReviewSource
- HP Omni 120-1024 Review @ TechReviewSource
- How To Build A Windows Home Server @ HardwareHeaven
Subject: Processors, Mobile | January 5, 2012 - 01:47 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: WonderMedia, PRIZM WM8950, SoC, arm, cortex-a9
Taipei, Taiwan, January 5, 2012 -WonderMedia Technologies, Inc, a leading innovator of energy-efficient, feature-rich system-on-chip platforms, today announced the WonderMedia PRIZM WM8950 SoC.Combining a highly energy-efficient ARM Cortex-A9 core running at 800MHz with advanced graphics and stunning 1080p video playback capabilities, the WonderMedia PRIZM WM8950 further extends WonderMedia's leadership in the fast-growing Android media tablet market.
Prizm WM8950The next generation WonderMedia PRIZM platform and software suite provides customers an easy migration path to a Cortex-A9 SoC and offers support for the latest Android 4.0 and Windows CE 7.0 operating systems. With its high-performance, and feature-rich design, the WM8950 is also optimized for a wide range of innovative system design applications, including smartbooks, Smart TV, SmartStream for wireless display and multimedia streaming, networked projectors, digital signage, and thin clients.
"Our line of PRIZM platforms has spurred the explosive growth in the Android media tablet market," commented Tzumu Lin, President and CEO, WonderMedia Technologies, Inc. "The new WM8950 delivers greater computing power and richer multimedia experiences to meet the ever growing global demand for affordable smart mobile devices."
PRIZM WM8950 Highlights:
- 800MHz ARM Cortex-A9 processor
- ARM Mali-400 3D graphics Processor
- Multi-standard 1080p video decoding engine
- H.264 video encoding
- DDR3/LPDDR2 DRAM interface
- Multiple video interface including HDMI, LVDS, and DVO
- Flexible networking and peripheral interface
- Advanced hardware security engine
- Android 4.0 and Windows CE7.0 support