ARM shows off new mobile chip

arm-wrestlingBritish chip designer ARM Holdings unveiled a new processor aimed at better computing performance and beefed-up graphics for smartphones and tablets.

We will not see the new Cortex-A72 processor hit the streets until next year but it is being touted as saving ARM’s bacon.

Investors are concerned about lower royalty rates for ARM as growth in the smartphone market shifts to China, where consumers typically buy devices priced at $200 or less, compared with more than $600 in the United States.

ARM licenses its processor technology to other semiconductor companies and receives its cash based on the selling prices of chips shipped by its partners.

On the technical side,  ARM claims the new processor has 3.5 times the performance of comparable chips from 2014.

The chip design will also deliver a 75 percent reduction in energy use, helping reduce battery drain on smartphones, they claimed.

However, most of the advances depend on contract manufacturers like TSMC getting its 16nm process technology to higher yields.

Nandan Nayampally, ARM’s vice president of marketing, said with the Cortex-A72’s increased computing horsepower, smartphones and tablets will be able to handle complex computing like voice analysis without having to connect to the Internet.

Many compute-heavy tasks on smartphones today are handled remotely in data centres owned by Internet heavyweights like Amazon, Google and Facebook In instead of by the smartphone’s processor, with results instantly sent to the device.

Ten companies have licensed the new technology, including China’s Rockchip and Taiwan’s MediaTek, ARM said.