ARM drops Cortex-A7 core on unsuspecting market, devastates low-power SoC and application-processor landscapes. What’s it all mean?

ARM has just announced the ARM Cortex-A7 processor core for SoC designers and the low-power landscape will never be the same again. Why? Because the Cortex-A7 core implemented in a 28nm process technology is reportedly one fifth the size of an ARM Cortex-A8 processor core implemented in a 45nm process technology yet the 28nm Cortex-A7 core will deliver about 20% more processor performance at about 30% to 40% of the power consumption. But I betcha can’t use just one of these cores because the ARM Cortex-A7 core is an MPCore product, which means it sports all of the multicore goodies you need to create SMP processor clusters—just like the ARM Cortex-A9 and Cortex-A15 MPCore processors—including a Snoop control Unit (SCU), shared L2 cache, and a 128-bit AMBA4 Advanced Coherent Bus interface. It also sports the large (40-bit) physical address-space extensions (LPAE) introduced with the ARM Cortex-A15 processor.

ARM’s Cortex-A7 Web page points out that the LPAE feature makes the ARM Cortex-A7 an ideal processor companion for the ARM Cortex-A15 processor core for what the company calls big.LITTLE Processing, a concept similar to NVIDIA’s “variable symmetric processing” implemented using two differently optimized ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore processors in a 5-core arrangement. (See “Processor Wars: NVIDIA reveals a phantom fifth ARM Cortex-A9 processor core in Kal-El mobile processor IC. Guess why it’s there?”) This is certainly going to happen for high-end SoCs and media/phone processors. However, I think you will also see 2-core and quad-core processor complexes built entirely from ARM Cortex-A7 MPCore processors because of the small size and huge power savings.

Of course, ARM wins either way.


About sleibson2

EDA360 Evangelist and Marketing Director at Cadence Design Systems (blog at
This entry was posted in 28nm, Android, ARM, Cortex-A15, Cortex-A7, EDA360, Silicon Realization, SoC, SoC Realization, System Realization and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s