ARM launches Cortex A-72 platform, powering flagship smartphones in 2016

ARM, the CPU company that powers virtually all smartphones, announces the Cortex A-72 chip design as well as a new graphics core.

Every flagship smartphone you buy contains a processor designed by ARM. On Tuesday, ARM described what those flagship phones will look like in 2016 -- and they'll all be powered by its new chip, the Cortex A-72 processor.

ARM's announcements set the table for a new generation of flagship phones. Not only did ARM announce the Cortex A-72 processor, but a new, integrated Mali-T880 GPU, a new CCI-500 processor interconnect and even optimizations for a new TSMC 16-nm FinFET manufacturing process.

ARM occupies a unique niche in the chip industry. As a chip designer, the company doesn't actually make any products, but its designs are licensed to companies including Qualcomm, Samsung and others. Those companies turn ARM's designs into actual chips that power next-generation smartphones. To allow time for its ten unnamed licensees to actually develop product, ARM's new Cortex A-72 won't ship until early 2016, according to ARM CPU group vice president of marketing Nandan Nayampally.

In general, ARM said its chips have increased in performance more than 50 times in five years, with the Cortex A-72 simply continuing the trend.

ARM's selling points for the A-72 chip will be 4K technology, mobile gaming, and connecting the Internet of Things, the company said. ARM's Ian Drew, the company's chief marketing officer, said the chip will enable capturing 4K video at 120 frames per second, allowing "slow-mo" image capture that can only be done in 1080p on today's smartphones.

The case for 4K: "All users hate pixels"

James Bruce, ARM's director of mobile solutions, said it was simply not true that 4K pixels weren't discernible on today's smartphones. "All users hate pixels," he said. "They hate to see and detect pixels."

There will be some users with better eyesight that can discern pixels even at higher resolutions, Bruce added; the new Cortex chips will also be shipped into tablets, where displays are even bigger. In general, "there is an insatiable demand for higher resolutions and higher frame rates," he said.

Mobile gaming will also improve dramatically, ARM said, as the new T-880 integrated GPU will offer 1.8 times the performance of the Mali T-880 GPU that's powering today's smartphones. And to connect the Internet of Things, the chip will need to be able to spare the power to periodically communicate with sensors, smartwatches, and other devices; the A72 will consume 75 percent less power than the Cortex A15, Drew said.

The new Cortex is an ARM v8-A, 64-bit chip, meaning that it will see a performance boost if paired with Google's new 64-bit Lollipop operating system--and not, if it's forced to run a 32-bit OS. Today, however, Lollipop is relatively unused.

ARM brought a number of industry partners on stage to help talk about the need for the additional performance the Cortex A72 will bring. Anuj Gosalia, director of development for mobile and PC software for Facebook's Oculus technology, said that Oculus could use the additional horsepower now.

The Oculus technology, when paired with a Samsung phone to create the Samsung Gear VR, creates a 110-degree field of view that simulates the Oculus virtual-reality environment. But even with a Galaxy phone attached, "you can still see pixels," he said.

"We would like to see a 4K or even higher screen, and drive much more than a 60Hz refresh rate," Gosalia said. "It needs all the power it can get. So we are very excited to get a lot of CPU power, and GPU power. We can't wait to get our hands on it."

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags smartphonesqualcommconsumer electronicsArmtsmcComponents

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Mark Hachman

Mark Hachman

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2019

This Holiday Season, protect yourself and your loved ones with the best. Buy now for Holiday Savings!

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?