While Intel have likely been sunning themselves in the aura of AMD’s Bulldozer failure, ARM has been beavering away working on a new chip of their own. Known as the A7, ARM is claiming that this could revolutionise the mobile industry – something that seems to happen with every new smartphone release, at least so says the manufacturer.
The new chip is designed to be incredibly energy efficient, and to be bundled into smartphones and other devices to act as the idle processor. Thanks to its ability to work in hybrid with other chips, ARM claims that this one can beaver away at all the general tasks during normal operation, then when you need some extra oomf for games, watching videos or anything else quite complicated, the phone architecture can switch over to the more powerful option. This saves battery life, technically makes the phones a bit greener and could also help keep the internals cool.
While much less well known than the desktop and notebook dominators Intel and AMD, ARM chips are actually found in a very large majority of mobile devices. While famously reluctant to discuss their internal hardware, Apple utilise them in their iPhones as well.
ARM chief executive Warren East has been most voal about the new A7s, saying that they are much smaller than previous designs, cheaper to manufacture and perform almost as well as any other hardware currently on the market.
“You typically make chips on a silicon wafer and it costs roughly the same amount of money for each wafer. If you can get 2,000 devices on a wafer or 1,000 devices on a wafer it makes a huge difference to the cost per device,” he told BBC News.
He also believes that with the reduced cost of smartphone production – thanks to this chip – that developing countries will be able to get on board with smartphones that bit more. It has already been seen in the Middle East and Northern African nations that smartphone use can play a real part in helping them oust dictators that have been in power for decades.
“We can see the developed world moving on and mobile being the nexus for all sort of consumer electronics. In the Bric countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) we are seeing catch-up.
“As we look forward these smartphones are going to be totally ubiquitous and in the much less developed areas, such as Africa, you will see smartphones becoming tools that people use to make their lives easier.”
Intel has recently stepped up its interests in the mobile market, so ARM is looking to have more competition soon. This new A7 could make for some interesting developments however.