ARM design to take mobile chips over 1GHz

The new ARM11 microarchitecture will give a speed boost to handhelds, smartphones and other multimedia devices

ARM Holdings is to give handheld devices a speed boost with its next-generation "Jaguar" processor microarchitecture, dubbed ARM11, which will ultimately surpass speeds of 1GHz. The architecture, details of which were revealed on Monday to coincide with the Embedded Processor Forum in California, is also the first to implement ARM's v6 instruction set, which includes multimedia performance enhancement features.

ARM chip designs are licensed by most leading chip manufacturers, including Intel and Motorola, for powering mobile phones, PDAs and other portable data devices. Pocket PC PDAs and the Game Boy Advance portable video game are both powered by ARM-based chips. The Intel StrongARM chip that powers some Pocket PC devices, for example, runs in the 200MHz range.

Intel has been making performance advancements of its own with the ARM-based Xscale microprocessor, which currently reaches speeds of up to 400MHz. ARM11 will help take ARM out of the shadow of Intel, bringing the performance boost to other licencees.

In its initial incarnation using a 0.13-micron manufacturing process, ARM11 will deliver 350MHz to 500MHz in the worst cases, with typical performance of 533MHz to 750MHz, ARM said. Using a more advanced 0.10-micron process the architecture will be able to run faster than 1GHz.

"The ARM11 microarchitecture is the foundation of our next generation of CPU cores, and delivers new levels of performance and efficiency for leading-edge wireless and consumer devices," said John Rayfield, ARM's director of R&D, in a statement.

It is the first to use the ARMv6 instruction set, announced last autumn, which is designed for operating systems and multimedia, and includes SIMD (Single Instruction Multiple Data) media processing extensions, as well as the Jazelle Java accelerator.

The core reaches higher clock speeds by using a longer 8-stage integer pipeline and other enhancements. It also includes improvements to power efficiency, real-time performance and memory management.

ARM will release the first CPU based on ARM11 to licensees in the fourth quarter of this year.

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