ARM Introduces 2.5 GHz Cortex A-15 Processor - InformationWeek

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ARM Introduces 2.5 GHz Cortex A-15 Processor

Already dominant in the smartphone market, the new processor could herald fierce competition between ARM and Intel for the emerging tablet computer market.

ARM, a U.K. designer of semiconductors that dominates the mobile phone market, has introduced an addition to its Cortex family that could heighten the competition with Intel in supplying processors for tablet-style computers.

ARM unveiled Thursday the Cortex-A15 MPCore processor, which the company says is far more powerful than the Cortex-A8 core currently used in Apple's A4 chip that powers the iPhone 4 and iPad tablet. Apple is a licensee of ARM technology. ARM processors are used in more than 95% of mobile phones today. The latest product is expected to help smartphone manufacturers boost the capabilities of their products by providing much more processing power at a level of energy consumption comparable to ARM's current chips.

In addition, ARM is hoping to take the Cortex-A15, which has a clock speed of up to 2.5 GHz, into markets where Intel sells its processors, namely tablets, netbooks, servers and networking infrastructure. "The Cortex-A15 MPCore processor will become the next major step along the industry's energy efficient computing roadmap and open up a wide range of new application possibilities for our partners," Mike Inglis, executive VP and general manager of ARM's processor division, said in a statement.

The advantage ARM has over Intel is in power management. Because ARM processors consume much less energy, they are used much more often in mobile devices running solely on battery power. However, Intel is moving quickly to reduce the power consumption of its Atom family, around which Intel is building its platforms for smartphones and other mobile computing devices. Within the consumer electronics market, Atom chips are used today mostly in netbooks, inexpensive mini-laptops built for checking email and web browsing.

Major companies that have licensed the Cortex-A15 include Samsung, Sony Ericsson and Texas Instruments. "We believe this new Cortex-A15 MPCore processor core from ARM, with its quantum leap in processing capabilities, will successfully enable many next-generation electronic products and redefine the level of experience consumers will demand from their smartphones and mobile computing devices," Yiwan Wong, VP of marketing in Samsung's semiconductor division, said in a joint statement with ARM.

ARM expects samples of the Cortex-A15 to ship to manufacturers next year, with products using the processor shipping in 2013.

The introduction of the Cortex-A15 drove ARM stock on the London exchange up 4% Thursday to its highest level since December 2001, according to the Bloomberg news agency. The stock increase raised the company's value to $8.2 billion.


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