ARM's new Cortex adds server features

Although few details are available, ARM is starting to talk about its Cortex A15 chip, a low-power core with some very server-friendly additions

ARM has released some details of its forthcoming 2.5GHz Cortex A15 processor, at an event in San Francisco on Wednesday.

The chip, previously code-named Eagle, will be built in 32nm and 28nm processes by IBM, GlobalFoundries and Samsung. The core is superscalar, capable of running multiple instructions through a pipeline, and ARM says that it will perform up to five times faster than the current ARM 9 architecture.

ARM Cortex image

The chip will be built in 32nm and 28nm processes by IBM, GlobalFoundries and Samsung. Credit: ARM

The company said it would be used in 'superphones' (high-performance smartphones), home entertainment, small servers and wireless infrastructure, in one- to eight-core configurations and beyond.

"[This is] an entirely new era for the ARM Partnership", said Mike Inglis, executive vice president and general manager for ARM's processor division, in a statement. "The Cortex-A15 MPCore processor will [...] open up a wide range of new application possibilities for our partners."

Other major differences with the previous architecture include a 1TB physical memory map, a very low power sleep mode that can be reached in 10 microseconds, and power management for individual stages of the instruction pipelines. The core also has hardware virtualisation, supports ARM's AMBA 4 bus architecture, and has error detection and recovery for on-chip data — all features more commonly found in server designs than smartphones.

ARM said that the chip would support up to 4-core SMP within a single processor cluster, and multiple clusters through AMBA 4.

Samsung, STMicroelectronics and Texas Instruments are the three ARM partners working on products initially.

More details of the chip are due later in the year.

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