ARM Unveils Cortex A15, Targets Smartphones and Servers

ARM Unleashes New Cortex A15 Core with Server Features

by Anton Shilov
09/09/2010 | 02:19 PM

ARM Holdings, the leading developer of low-power microprocessor technologies, on Thursday introduced its new Cortex-A15 MPCore processor, code-named Eagle, that offers five times performance improvement over today’s advanced smartphone processors, within a comparable energy footprint. The company also added a number of server-specific technologies to compete in low-power server space. Still, the processors feature 32-bit architecture with all its limitations.


Cortex A15 processor running at up to 2.5GHz will enable highly scalable solutions within constantly shrinking energy, thermal and cost budgets. The Cortex-A15 processor is available for licensing today and is targeted at manufacture in 32nm, 28nm, and future geometries. The Cortex-A15 extends the capabilities of the Cortex-A-series by adding efficient hardware support for OS virtualization, soft-error recovery, larger memory addressability and system coherency. The Cortex A15 MPCore processor brings a new level of performance scalability as well as a feature set that enables ARM partners to address a range of innovative and traditional markets with a single processor architecture.

ARM positions the code-named Eagle processor for next-generation smartphones, tablets, large-screen mobile computing and high-end digital home entertainment devices through to wireless base-stations and enterprise infrastructure products. Still, considering the fact that ARM’s Cortex A15 MPCore is still 32-bit, it cannot support over 4GB of memory, a crucial feature of modern servers.

ARM showed off illustrations of the core deployed in clusters of four CPUs sharing a unified L2 cache, and two of these clusters linked by the previously-announced AMBA-4 bus architecture, reports EETimes web-site.

“The operational and economic benefits of cloud computing will transform the high-tech industry over the next decade. Everything from the handheld devices to the network infrastructure will require more performance and efficiency to handle the increasing amounts of information that will emerge from the use of remote resources,” said Jim McGregor, Chief Technology Strategist at In-Stat.

Collaborative differentiation through partnership continues to be the main driver of the ARM business model and the launch of the Cortex-A15 MPCore processor is the result of ARM’s work with lead licensee partners Samsung, ST Ericsson and Texas Instruments, who were key drivers of the definition of the processor, ensuring it meets the key challenges faced by the industry.

The Cortex-A15 MPCore processor will be supported by specifically optimized ARM Physical IP that was developed jointly with the processor. These optimizations enable rapid development of physical implementations, initially targeting 32nm and 28nm technologies with a roadmap extending to 20nm. The company has indicated potential partners to produce the Cortex-A15: Globalfoundries, IBM and Samsung Electronics; apparently, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company will, at least initially, not make the A15-based chips.