ARM targets x86 architecture with Cortex-A15

Posted by Aharon Etengoff

ARM has consolidated its control over the lucrative mobile space and is moving to challenge x86 architecture in markets currently dominated by Intel and AMD.

According to ARM exec James Bruce, Nvidia's recently announced Project Denver and Microsoft's decision to code an ARM-friendly version of Windows 8 sent a "powerful message" to the industry about the future of RISC-based architecture.

ARM targets x86 architecture with Cortex-A15"With our upcoming Cortex-A15 processor, we are definitely moving closer to the day when your smartphone or tablet can act as a primary computing device," Bruce told TG Daily during an interview in San Francisco.

"You can simply hook the smartphone or tablet up to an external monitor to watch a movie and presentation, while linking a mouse and keyboard via Bluetooth to work on an Office doc."

However, Bruce emphasized x86 PCs were unlikely to disappear anytime soon, as the Cortex-A15 would help facilitate the creation of powerful next-gen smartphones and tablets to act as "accompanying" devices, rather than full-on replacements. 

"The primary message and benefit of the A15 is that it delivers new levels of computing capabilities, while still maintaining low power consumption," he explained. 



"The processor boasts a multi-core design, making it easy to scale from 2 to 4, or even 8 cores. There are clearly different solutions for various markets, and you will see the A15 deployed in a number of platforms, including smartphones, tablets, portable computing devices, printers and even servers."

Perhaps not unexpectedly, Bruce seemed quite bullish about the prospect of low-powered, RISC-based ARM processors finding their way into an increasing number of servers.

"The entire industry is now realizing you can't just keep on sucking power, whether from an environmentally green or purely financial perspective. And that is why we are working with partners to integrate the A15 into server designs.

"For the most part, the 32-bit A15 (with 40-bit physical addressing) is more than sufficient for standard tasks such as serving web-pages or content hosting."

The Cortex-A15 processor remains on track to ship at the end of 2012 or early 2013. 

A number of vendors have already licensed the next-gen SoC, including Texas Instruments (TI), ST Ericsson, Samsung and Nvidia.