Arm's new mobile IP brings performance, efficiency gains for enabling 5G, AI

Arm roles out new CPU, GPU and NPU products, as well as a new program to customize products for greater performance.

Arm on Tuesday is unveiling a new suite of mobile IP that promises to bring greater performance and efficiency to smartphones, enabling new immersive experiences. In addition to a series of new processors, the company is rolling out a new program that will allow customers to customize Arm Cortex products to reach specific performance needs.

The new offerings are driven by the notion that smartphones have become a critical part of "our digital DNA," Ian Smythe, VP of Marketing for Arm's Client Line of Business, said to ZDNet. 

"The way in which we view smartphones is changing, and we have increasingly broad experiences based around our smartphones," he added, whether it's for video calls, real-time tracking of deliveries, or any number of everyday applications. 

Meanwhile, Arm reasons, as 5G and AI become more prevalent, smartphones will need to deliver these services with greater performance and efficiency. 

The new products include the Cortex-A78 CPU, the Mali-G78 GPU, the Mali-G68 and the Ethos-N78 NPU. 

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The Cortex-A78 is Arm's most efficient Cortex-A CPU ever, offering a 20 percent increase in sustained performance over Cortex-A77-based devices within a 1-watt power budget. It's more space-efficient than the A-77, with a 15 percent smaller Octa-core cluster. The processor is designed to power multi-day, immersive 5G experiences, as well as up-and-coming foldable devices. 

The Mali-G78 GPU, Arm's highest-performing Mali GPU, is tailored to provider a quality user experience in areas like cross-platform gaming. It delivers a 25 percent increase in graphics performance over the Mali-G77 and offers support for up to 24 cores. The Valhall-based GPU leverages Async technology to improve scalability and reduces energy consumption

Meanwhile, the  the Arm Mali-G68 is a new GPU designed for the sub-premium market. It only supports up to six cores but inherits all the features of the Mali-G78, effectively giving customers a way to offer high-performance features in a smartphone at a sub-premium price point. 

The Ethos-N78 neural processing unit (NPU) doubles peak performance over the N77 to power a greater number of machine learning use cases, such as AR-based applications or smart home hubs. If offers 25 percent more performance efficiency, meaning it can offer more performance from the same area. Additionally, it's available in more than 90 unique configurations, giving partners the ability to match it to their specific use cases. 

Along with new products, Arm is launching a new customization program that builds off of its existing "Built on Arm Cortex Technology" program.

"We work with partners early on in the program, before we fix the design of CPU, to understand where they're willing to go in terms of performance, power and efficiency," Smythe explained. "Then we can offer them options to design a CPU with Cortex capabilities... outside of our normal roadmap."

The first outcome of that is the Cortex-X1, which delivers a 30 percent increase in peak performance but with a 15 percent larger cluster area when compared to the Cortex-A77.