ARM readies processors for LTE phones and tablets

The use of two cores will allow smartphones to keep up with next-generation networks

ARM is offering two new processors -- the Cortex-R5 and Cortex-R7 -- which will help next-generation smartphones and tablets take better advantage of increasing mobile broadband speeds, the company said on Monday.

ARM offers a range of processors, designed to handle different tasks in smartphones, tablets and other types of mobile devices. Its family of Cortex-R processors sits between the modem and the application processor, feeding data from the former to the latter.

As network technologies such as LTE (Long Term Evolution) and HSPA (High-Speed Packet Access) increase data speeds offered in mobile networks, devices have to evolve to keep up. Here is where the Cortex-R5 and Cortex-R7 come in.

Just like its siblings, the Cortex-R5 and Cortex-R7 processors can be implemented with single or dual cores, and clock speeds at up to 1.66MHz or 2.53MHz, respectively. When designing a product based on either processor, one core can, for example, be instructed to handle download traffic and the other upload traffic, according to Andrew Frame, product manager at ARM. Depending on what the cores are used for, smartphone vendors can also choose to lower the clock speed, and in the process consume less power and increase battery life, Frame said.

The Cortex-R7 has sufficient performance to be used in devices compatible with LTE-Advanced, which will offer download speeds at up to 1G bps (bits per second).

Mobile devices aren't the only products that can use the Cortex-R5 or the Cortex-R7. The processors are also destined to be used in, for example, cars or storage systems. In a car, the processors could be used in its anti-lock braking systems, where it helps gather data from a large number of sensors to help the car decide what to do next.

The Cortex-R5 is already shipping to ARM's partners, and the Cortex-R7 will join it in the third quarter. Products that user the latter are expected to start shipping towards the end of the year.

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Mikael Ricknäs

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