What’s next for ARM and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon?
Snapdragon is one of the most successful and vastly popular mobile SoCs and is brought to us by Qualcomm. Something we don’t often consider is that the Snapdragon is based on ARM’s designs. To see where Snapdragon is headed, we first need to look at the ARM roadmap.
ARM is the company that many of today’s mobile SoCs are based upon. Some are ARMv5, some are ARMv7a-compatible. Others are something entirely different. Notice that I said “based upon”. One might think that an SoC based on ARMv5 technology is old and slow. Not necessarily. Since ARMv5 has been around for a while there’s been a lot of time for companies to modify and tweak their own SoC to enhance and optimize code. ARMv7-based processors are newer, so they’ve had less time for companies to work their magic and make them even more awesome.
Say hello to the Cortex-A50 Series!
ARM’s Cortex-A50 Series is going to be based on the ARMv8 architecture. It’s going to be 64-bit compatible (today we’re only in the 32-bit realm).
The Cortex-A53 is being targeted toward energy-efficient mobile applications and its big-brother, whereas the Cortex-A57 is high-performance beast, but still taking aim at “superphones”.
“Superphone” chips are relatively expensive, which is furthering the spread between “dumb-phone” users and smartphone users. Cortex A-53 aims to change that by delivering the same performance as the Cortex-A9 at the same price-point as much more “affordable” chips.
Cortex-A53 is 40% smaller, can use the 32nm or 20nm process, and includes 64-bit support. What’s more, it’s four times as efficient as what we’ve got today.
Performance and Power Efficiency
The Cortex-A57 promises a three-times performance increase over today’s superphones, but it will be five times more power-efficient.
Security will be included in the spec, with new instruction sets that can help speed up encryption by ten times!
64-bit and Cores Galore!
In addition to being able to address more memory, going to 64-bit is sort of like doubling the number of lanes on the freeway: you can push a lot more cars through in the same amount of time, and you don’t run into as many traffic jams.
You’re probably not going to see many more single-core processors in the future. Today we’re surrounded by dual- and quad-core SoCs. Cortex-A57 is salable beyond 16 cores. What will we even call that? Hexadeca-core?
As I’m fond of saying, if you’re into technology, today is a very good day to be alive — based on this news, tomorrow is going to be even better!