ARM launches new Cortex, Mali processors to boost AI, VR mobile tech

The new processors have been designed for "always on" interfaces able to cope with AI and VR application demands.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

ARM has unveiled a set of new processors to provide the brainpower for our mobile devices to cope with advanced artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR) technologies.

On Monday, the British semiconductor giant said the new Cortex-A75 and Cortex-A55 processors, alongside the new Mali-G72 graphics processor, have been designed to "address the changing nature of computers driven by AI and other more human-like experiences."

"Distributed intelligence" is at the heart of this trend, which includes connecting AI and the cloud, on-device learning, enhanced security and privacy, and the use of 4K, HDR, and 5G for more "human-like" interfaces.

ARM says that by providing low-power, efficient and powerful processors, device vendors will be able to explore the possibilities of distributed intelligence, and the new Cortex-A architecture enables system-on-a-chip (SoC) architecture designers to scale up to eight cores in a single cluster.

The Cortex-A75 and Cortex-A55 have been designed with this concept in mind. Based on ARM's DynamIQ big.LITTLE technology, the first in line to use DynamIQ, each core is used as the "right processor for the right task," diverting commands and control depending on application and system tasks, thereby improving overall power usage and efficiency.

As each core can have different performance and power characteristics -- and the Cortex-A processors also contain dedicated processor instructions for machine learning and AI tasks -- ARM says it is possible for AI performance to increase by over 50 times during the next three to five years.

The Cortex-A75 will deliver a 50 percent increase in performance in comparison to current devices such as the Cortex-A73. Designed for laptops and large-screen mobile devices, ARM says the ML and VR-ready processor is also suitable for autonomous vehicle use, and in particular when speedy responses are required.

The Cortex-A55, a processor suitable for Internet of Things (IoT) devices and systems which connect IoT to cloud gateways, is a "breakthrough" in power efficiency standards, according to the chip maker. In comparison to the Cortex-A53 found in 28nm devices, ARM says the new processor is capable of delivering up to 2.5 times the power efficiency than older models.

In addition, due to DynamIQ, this chip can also be used in autonomous vehicle applications.

The new Mali-G72 graphics processor has been designed from the ground up for high-fidelity and power-consuming mobile gaming. ARM hopes the Mali-G72 will deliver an advanced mobile VR and gaming experience for users, and having also been optimized for machine learning, the chip reduces write bandwidth requirements which may improve frame rates, streaming, and responsiveness.

See also: Windows Server on ARM: It's happening

According to ARM, one billion Mali GPUs were shipped last year and with the inclusion of a new processor which improves performance by 1.4 times in comparison to 2017 designs, the company hopes adoption will only increase.

In comparison to the Mali-G71, the G72 offers an improvement of 25 percent in power efficiency, a 17 percent ML efficiency gain, and 20 percent better area efficiency, and also includes improved support for mobile multiview systems, multisampling anti-aliasing, foveated rendering and Adaptive Scalable Texture Compression (ASTC), which is used to increase image compression quality in order to save power.

The processors will be shipped in devices from the start of 2018.

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