ARM (NASDAQ:ARMH) recently announced its next generation high-end processor core called the Cortex A72. According to the company, the core should bring performance and power-efficiency enhancements over the prior generation Cortex A57 core.
The Cortex A57 was internally codenamed Atlas, while the Cortex A72 was codenamed Maia. And now, we know the next generation processor core is codenamed Ares.
What do we know about Ares?
According to the LinkedIn profile of ARM senior principal engineer David Lutz -- which was highlighted by user "NoSpammer" on the website Real World Tech -- the Ares core should bring a substantial speed up in floating-point performance. He also believes that the Ares core will feature a more area efficient -- I assume normalized for manufacturing technology, which impacts chip size -- floating-point unit, as well.
Beyond that, details on this future core are still sparse.
Some interesting tidbits on Cortex A72
Although ARM only recently announced the A72 that precedes Ares, the company has yet to give detailed performance numbers. Interestingly enough, though, Lutz claims in his LinkedIn profile that the A72 features a totally redesigned floating-point unit, bringing "major improvements in latency and energy."
He claims that in popular floating-point benchmark SpecFP -- he does not indicate whether this is the older SpecFP 2000 or newer SpecFP 2006 -- the A72 brings a 30% speed-up over the Cortex A57 at constant clock speeds. Given that the A57 already has best-in-class floating-point performance in the mobile chip arena, this is quite an impressive feat.
An indication of ARM's ambitions beyond smartphones
From what I understand, the vast majority of "typical" mobile applications today are more sensitive to integer performance than floating-point performance, although I would imagine that intensive 3D games would benefit from increased floating-point performance.
This fits in perfectly with the company vision that eventually, smartphones could become full-blown PC replacements used for a much broader, more computationally intensive set of applications. Arming its cores with robust floating-point performance also helps these cores be useful for applications outside of the traditional mobile device market.
ARM continues to make impressive progress
With each of its processor cores, ARM seems to deliver pretty significant improvements across the board. Not only is this good for ARM's processor licensees, who get access to better processor cores every few years, but it also raises the bar for those ARM architecture licensees who spend the money and energy to design their own ARM-compatible cores.
I am of the belief that ARM will continue to put out increasingly impressive mobile cores going forward, and I also expect some impressive ARM-compatible cores from the company's architecture licensees. As has been widely discussed, if Qualcomm -- which licenses ARM cores for some products and builds its own ARM cores for higher-end products -- is using the A72 in its mid-range parts, then that might imply a pretty significant step up in performance and/or power efficiency from the A72 for Qualcomm's own 64-bit core.
Apple's first-generation 64-bit core, known as Cyclone, and its follow-on -- which is now widely referred to as "Enhanced Cyclone" -- is also very impressive. I am also expecting some pretty great things from the next generation Apple CPU core that is likely to debut later this year.