Arm’s Cortex-A75 has been the high-end offering for the past year, but it now has a higher-end sibling, the Cortex-A76 (Fig. 1). It will likely pair with the Cortex-A55 in a big.LITTLE configuration using Arm’s DynamiQ technology as well as the new Mali-G76 GPU and Mali-V76 VPU to target always-on applications in form factors such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones. All three new platforms offer higher performance and lower power requirements.
1. The Arm Cortex-A76 can be paired with a Cortex-A55 in a big.LITTLE configuration.
The Cortex-A76 delivers 35% more performance than the Cortex-A75 with 40% better battery power efficiency. The numbers are based on a 3-GHz Cortex-A76 implemented in 7 nm compared to a Cortex-A75 running at 2.8 GHz using 10-nm technology.
Arm has also taken into account the popularity of machine-learning (ML) applications, providing improved performance in this space by a factor of four. Key drivers of the performance boost are micro architecture improvements, support for 8-bit fixed-point values, and a new SIMD approach—all without code changes.
In addition, the Mali-G76 GPU gets a 2.7X performance boost for ML applications using similar design techniques. Both earlier versions of these cores have already been used to run ML applications. On top of that, the Mali-G76 (Fig. 2) also provides a 30% improvement in battery efficiency compared to its earlier sibling and 30% density improvement; thus, it takes up less space. The GPU has dual texture mappers, using three execution engines for each shader core. The IP supports 4 to 20 shader cores. The L2 cache is also configurable with two or four slices.
2. The Mali-G76 delivers a 2.7X performance boost for machine-learning applications.
The Mali-G76 targets gaming applications with one and a half times the performance of existing Arm GPUs. This can translate into longer game play through more battery life or more ambitious gaming that can take advantage of the ML improvements.
The last of the new cores, the Mali-V76, offers twice the decode performance of current systems and supports 8K60 video. It handles bi-directional streaming of multiple streams for applications such as video calls. The V76 can also support 16 1080p60 streams for a four-by-four video wall or four 2160p60 streams for a two-by-two wall.
The new core is designed to handle augmented-reality (AR) and virtual-reality (VR) applications. It’s 40% smaller than a Mali-V61 that supports 4K120.
Arm looks to put a lot of its IP into premium computing platforms (Fig. 3). This includes a large amount of Arm IP addressing everything including the main processing unit, graphics, and video, plus sensor fusion and radio support in addition to the interconnects such as CoreLink.
3. Arm’s view of a premium computing platform includes a large amount of Arm IP that addresses everything including the main processing unit, graphics and video, plus sensor fusion and radio support.
The company is working toward taking a bigger slice of the laptop market that’s been dominated by Intel. Demands for higher performance in that arena can be delivered by the Cortex-A76 and company. Along those lines, Microsoft Windows 10 runs on Arm, making it a possible alternative to x86 laptops.