ARM Cortex-A5 to Enable Faster, Power Efficient Handhelds

26060Look out Intel Atom, there’s a new computing platform on the way. ARM today announced its Cortex-A5 processor and promises to deliver the “Internet everywhere with [the] most power-efficient and cost-effective multicore processor.” The new processor is application compatible with the older Cortex-A8 and -A9 CPUs, so there’s already support for Android, Adobe Flash, Java Platform Standard Edition, JavaFX, Linux, Microsoft Windows Embedded, Symbian and Ubuntu platforms. Even better is the expected performance gain, while still keeping power consumption in check.

eWeek indicates that the new Cortex-A5, code-named “Sparrow”, offers three times more performance than older A9 chips with one-third the power of an A11. Travis Lanier from ARM tells Dean Takahashi of VentureBeat that the “Cortex-A5 is fast enough to run a laptop or netbook.” Takahashi illustrates that in greater detail by saying these new chips can operate at gigahertz speeds but still consume as little as 80 millwatts of energy.

As super phones are gaining momentum, the timing is just right for ARM and its licensees. From the sounds of it, ARM’s CPU solution is maturing in speed, but not at the cost of energy efficiency. And the product can support a wide range of mobile platforms, including the upcoming version of Flash Player 10.1. That means an array of faster handhelds and smartbooks with versatile platform options running for longer amounts of time on a single charge. While the new platform is announced now, we’ll have to wait for those faster, more power efficient devices — products based on the A5 aren’t due out until 2011, although I suspect we’ll hear plenty of relevant announcements in 2010.


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