Riding on the popularity that its ARM chip designs are currently enjoying in the mobile world, ARM Holdings has announced two new chips for chip makers to turn into reality. The Cortex-A17 processor and the Mali-T720 graphics chip will deliver the much needed and improved performance that ARM hopes will power the next generation of mid-range mobile devices.
The Cortex-A17 is poised to take the place of the Cortex-A9, one of the most commonly used mid-range Cortex designs in the market, found in chips like the NVIDIA Tegra 2 and 3 and devices like the PlayStation Vita. Like the Cortex-A9, it is still based on the ARMv7-A architecture, making it compatible with the myriad of software available in the market today. Unlike its predecessor, however, ARM is advertising the Cortex-A17 to be 60 percent more performant. Not only that, it has also been designed to be compatible with the low-power Cortex-A7 for a potent big.LITTLE combination, giving even mid-range systems-on-chip a taste of some octa-core goodness.
Graphics is just as important in mobile nowadays and the new ARM Mali-T720 GPU aims to deliver that even for mid-range electronics. This graphics chip is said to exhibit a 150 percent improvement in energy efficiency as well as 50 percent more graphics performance than other graphics chips within the same low to mid range family. The Mali-T720 is designed with Android in mind and is optimized for OpenGL ES 3.0, 2.0, 1.0 and RenderScript. It also boasts of a Mali-V500 video processor that can handle even 4K resolutions.
Of course, ARM doesn't actually manufacture processors for immediate use by device makers. It instead licenses these designs and lets chip makers, like MediaTek, Rockchip, and even Samsung, churn out the actual chips themselves.