ARM Announces Dual-Core Cortex-A9 Processor Designs

Chip design firm ARM today announced the development of two dual-core chip designs based on the company's Cortex-A9 platform. Implementations of the new chip designs, which will deliver performance in excess of 2 GHz while drawing less than 0.25 W of power per CPU, will be available in the fourth quarter of this year.

The Cortex-A9 speed-optimized hard macro implementation will provide system designers with an industry standard ARM processor incorporating aggressive low-power techniques to further extend ARM's performance leadership into high-margin consumer and enterprise devices within the power envelope necessary for compact, high-density and thermally constrained environments. This hard macro implementation operates in excess of 2GHz when selected from typical silicon and represents an ideal solution for high-margin performance-oriented applications.

ARM is positioning the chip design for use in such consumer electronics devices as set-top boxes, digital TVs, and printers, although it has been claimed in the past that the chips would be appropriate for mobile platforms and would appear in those devices in 2010.

The iPhone 3GS utilizes a Cortex-A8-based processor from Samsung, suggesting that the Cortex-A9 could be a natural fit for the next-generation iPhone, although the thermally-constrained environment and energy requirements of the iPhone would likely dictate that the chip be underclocked as has been done for several iPhone and iPod touch models.

Apple, which acquired ARM chip design firm P.A. Semi in April 2008, has been rumored to be working on its own ARM-based chip designs for both the iPhone and the much-anticipated Apple tablet, and the introduction of dual-core Cortex-A9 processors would offer the company additional computing power and energy-saving options upon which to base its device designs.

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