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ARM unveils fastest-ever processor for mobiles

British semiconductor designer ARM Holdings on Tuesday unveiled a new processor that will enable devices such as mobile phones, digital cameras and TVs to achieve processing speeds now only available in computers.
/ Source: Reuters

British semiconductor designer ARM Holdings on Tuesday unveiled a new processor that will enable devices such as mobile phones, digital cameras and TVs to achieve processing speeds now only available in computers.

ARM, which designs processor cores and then lets other semiconductor firms include them in bigger chips, said its Cortex-A8 processor would help double the performance while using the same amount of power and help run applications such as video, TV and gaming on mobiles.

"(It will have) the same efficiency but double the performance," ARM vice president Bruce Beckloff told Reuters.

The company has signed up five licensees for Cortex-A8, and expects products based on the world's first 1 GHz processor for mobiles to be shipped out in a few years.

"Cortex will be for phones that will be coming out in 2008 or 2009 ... We develop the IP (intellectual property) about 3 years before it would land in the hands of consumers," Beckloff said in an interview.

Chipmakers that have licensed the Cortex-A8 include Texas Instruments, Samsung Electronics, Matsushita Electric and Freescale Semiconductor Inc..

The mobile phone industry is usually among the first to incorporate new chip designs, given its need to bring to market new instruments packed with applications such as still and video cameras, email and games, all of which require intensive processing while conserving battery power.

Beckloff said the new processor would find uses in digital TVs, Internet protocol (IP) TVs and digital set-top boxes.

The new processor is unlikely to generate revenues in the near term, and licensing deals will initially be reflected in the firm's order book.

Beckloff said revenues from Cortex-A8 would flow through over the next four quarters. He declined to reveal any pricing details, only saying that Cortex-A8 will be twice the millions of dollars ARM now charges for its ARM 11 family of processors.