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ARM this week announced a new premium mobile IP suite that includes ARM’s Cortex-A72 64-bit processor core, ARM Mali-T860 and T880 GPUs, and a new, faster ARM CoreLink tool.
In tandem, Cadence announced a reference flow for the suite that supports advanced manufacturing processes. Also available with the Cadence flow is ARM Artisan physical IP and ARM POP IP for the ARM Cortex-A72 processor and ARM Mali-T860 and T880 GPUs, enabling designers to meet aggressive processor performance and power goals. ARM used the Cadence digital and system-to-silicon verification tools and IP during the ARM Cortex-A72 processor development to ensure that the flow met complex mobile design requirements.
It’s the latest in a series of significant electronics design ecosystem announcements that have trumpeted the advance of mobile systems for more than a decade. But what does this one mean in particular?
Right now, it means more (and better) mobile. Next year, when systems begin to hit the market, the technology announcement means consumers will have a data center in their pocket, as The Register put it.
Junko Yoshida at EE Times sees Chinese mobile vendors and SoC providers as big winners:
“Most striking in ARM’s announcement is the undeniable rising power of Asian fabs, foundries, and consumers that ARM is poised to serve. Among ‘more than ten partners’ to whom ARM has reportedly licensed the new Cortex-A72 processor, ARM mentioned only three companies by name. They are: MediaTek, HiSilicon, and Rockchip. While MediaTek is a Taiwan behemoth, both HiSilicon—a chip division of Huawei—and Rockchip are leading apps processor companies based in China.”
So the initial benefactor is the really the global smart phone design ecosystem, given the increased performance and lower power that comes attached with the new technology.
The Register reports that the A72 has twice the performance and half the power of ARM’s 64-bit flagship, the A57. The A72 also is 3.5X faster than the 32-bit Cortex-A15 and consumes 75 percent less power, according to ARM.
But I think there's a less-obvious (and just as powerful) potential down the road. First some context: What struck me most about the Consumer Electronics Show this year (here is our combined coverage) was why the other big market—Internet of Things (IoT)—hasn't achieved escape velocity.
Part of it is technological: We’re only so far along the path of high-performance, low-power integration innovations. Another part is mindset: For the right reasons (power, performance, area, cost), we’re designing edge devices relatively simply and pushing the compute job into the cloud, where power and performance reside.
This has helped enable a relatively simple IoT market—call it IoT 1.0: Edge devices interfacing with the analog world and executing simple jobs. We were all intrigued at first by a wristband that could measure your steps, pace, and heart rate, but eventually we started asking, “OK, what’s next?”
What’s next in IoT is going to require much more data capture and compute power at the edge—and obviously lower power consumption. In other words we want the coffee maker to see you as you enter the kitchen early in the morning in your robe and understand that it's time to turn on and calibrate the grind and pour to your preferences.
So we start to see—in IP announcements like ARM’s in the design and IP environments and methodology being built by Cadence—intimations of IoT 2.0.
Not tomorrow, but not 10 years from now either.
- Cadence at CES 2015: The IP Story
- Cadence at CES 2015: How Electronic System Design is Evolving