A new generation of ARM-designed processors will begin showing up in smartphones in 2013 or 2014, and will enable $100 smartphones with the power of today’s high-end models.ARM provides the designs for the processors used in most of today’s smartphones and tablets. The actual processors are created by companies like Nvidia and Texas Instruments, and compete with Intel’s processors.
Today in San Francisco, the company announced its next generation design, the Cortex A7. (In a blow to tech naming conventions, the current generations are the A8, A9, and A15 — the smaller number shows that it’s meant for lower-end phones.)
The company claims that the A7 will be one-fifth the size and use one-fifth as much energy as the A8, which is used in a lot of 3G phones in developing countries, while delivering 50% greater processing power. (That’s assuming it will be manufactured using a 28nm process; if manufactured using the current standard 45nm process, it will offer only about three times the energy efficiency and 30% better performance.)
The A7 can also combined with the high-end A15 side by side on the same chip. The idea: a super-low-powered processor (the A7) would be used for basic operating system tasks, and a higher performance one (the A15) for intensive tasks like gaming and navigation. That will offer performance equivalent to today’s smartphones but with 70% greater efficiency.