When you look under the hood of the processors powering most cutting-edge smartphones, you’ll find the work of ARM. The company licenses its core designs to chip manufacturers, which then layout and build the processors themselves. Chips like Nvidia’s Tegra 2 and Samsung’s Exynos 4210 all share ARM’s Cortex-A9 core. Now the company is getting ready for the next generation of mobile devices, with its Cortex-A15 ready to show up in smartphones by late 2012.
Each individual Cortex-A15 core will be able to run as fast as 2.5GHz itself, and companies licensing the design will be able to create multi-core processors featuring up to 16 such cores. Even if they were running at the same clock speed, an A15 should be significantly more powerful than an A9, offering a claimed 40% improvement in processing power. Combined with better management of out-of-order execution, an A15 could end up offering five times the speed of a comparable A9.
The first A15s will only feature one or two cores, but considering these claimed performance levels, that may be more than enough. Smartphones using them are about 20 months away from arriving, give or take a few. The pressure will likely be on for smartphone manufacturers to come out with bleeding-edge A15-based hardware for the 2012 holiday season. We can hardly wait!