ARM has revealed the details of its new Cortex A17 design. Socs based on the design are for mainstream smartphones and tablets, the cores support big.little setups with full system coherence and the first devices are expected in 2015.
Cortex A17 cores are about 60 percent faster than current A9 variants, but ARM also speaks of increased efficiency of 20 percent. Four A17 cores can be used in big.little setups, in combination with four Cortex A7 cores, with Heterogeneous Multi-Processing giving the freedom to use any combination of cores for workloads.
Contrary to what the name suggests, the A17 should not be seen as a successor to the A15: ARM focuses with the design on the mainstream and not on the high-end. Like the A12, the A17 is still a 32-bit design built on the ARMv7 architecture. The Cortex A17 is therefore more of a further development of the A12, Anandtech also notes, while the performance of mobile apps would be at the level of the A15. Currently, chipmakers use the Cortex A15 cores for high-end SOCs, such as Samsung for its Exynos. For the future high-end, ARM has the Cortex A57 in the pipeline, which offers, among other things, 64bit processing and is based on the ARMv8 architecture.
In addition to use in smartphones and tablets, ARM also foresees that chips with the cores will end up in smart TVs and cars. In addition, the design company is pushing the Mali T720 GPU forward to be combined with the cores. Finally, the company expects the first batch to be produced at 28nm, with a switch to 20nm at a later stage.