Arm has unveiled its first v9 Cortex CPUs that are designed and deliver next-gen performance. The Cambridge, UK-based company’s new CPU lineup will take over from Intel and include the Arm Cortex-X2 as its flagship offering, which is aimed not just at high-end smartphones but laptops as well. There’s also the Cortex-A710 for a wide range of smartphones, laptops, smart TVs and smart home devices, as well as the low-end Cortex-A510. In addition to the new CPUs, Arm has introduced a new Mali GPU family consisting of Mali-G710, Mali-G610, Mali-G510 and Mali-G310.
As announced at the end of March, the Armv9 CPU architecture aims to deliver better performance as well as improve machine learning, digital signal processor (DSP) and security experiences for customers.
The first and best choice in the v9 CPU lineup is the Arm Cortex-X2, successor to the Cortex-X1 available on the latest chipsets including Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 and Samsung Exynos 2100. The CPU is designed specifically for premium smartphones and laptops. It is claimed to offer over 16% performance boost and twice as fast machine learning processing over its predecessor. The single-thread performance of the new CPU is also 40% higher than the mainstream laptop CPUs of 2020. In smartphone terms, the Cortex-X2 is claimed to be able to deliver a 30% single-thread performance improvement over the premium Android flagships in the current market.
Arm is using its DynamIQ Shared Unit-110 (DSU-110) to increase the performance of the Cortex-X2 CPU. The configurable clustering approach allows for up to eight Cortex-X2 cores in a single cluster—along with larger L3 cache support of up to 16MB. This will help reduce data latency.
Manufacturers will, of course, be able to adjust CPU configurations according to their requirements and market demand.
Unlike the Cortex-X2, which is intended for high-end devices, Arm also has the Cortex-A710 for a variety of smartphones, laptops and smart TVs, among other hardware. It is rated to deliver a 10% performance boost over the same power envelope as the previous generation Arm Cortex-A78 CPU, plus 30% improved power efficiency and a twofold increase in machine learning processing. The Cortex-A710 is the first Armv9 “big” core targeted at chipsets based on the big.LITTLE architecture.
For low-end devices and the “LITTLE” core in next-gen SoCs, Arm brought in the Cortex-A510. It is claimed to offer a 35% performance boost over the previous generation Cortex-A55. The new CPU is also rated 20% more energy efficient and three times faster in machine learning processing when compared to its predecessor.
The Cortex-A510 has a three-width in-order design that brings better energy and area efficiency. Manufacturers can even bundle two Cortex-A510 CPUs into a complex, with multiple complexes per CPU cluster, the company said.
Similar to Cortex-X2, Cortex-A710 and Cortex-A510 have DSU-110 as CPU cluster. It brings “sustainable use cases” like AAA games to the new Cortex-A CPUs. The three CPUs in the Armv9 lineup also feature Secure-EL2, which provides a standard secure isolation mechanism for trusted services. The company has also provided its Memory Tagging Extension (MTE) to detect and prevent memory security vulnerabilities. Adoption of MTE is already underway for Android.
“We are also addressing control flow integrity with two new built-in features – Pointer Authentication (PAC) and Branch Target Identifiers (BTI),” the company said in a blog post. “These two hardware mechanisms enable strong prevention of Return Oriented Programming (ROP) and Jump Oriented Programming (JOP) attacks. Based on our studies to enable these two features, the number of gadgets available to an attacker on Glibc reduces by about 98%, with an increase in code size of only about 2%.
The new Armv9 CPUs also include Crypto instructions in the NEON and SVE2 space and built-in microarchitecture barriers of speculation that help mitigate side-channel attacks.
Alongside the new CPUs, Arm also introduced the Mali-G710 GPU – its highest performing GPU offering up to 20% improvement in performance and power efficiency, as well as a 35% machine learning boost over the Mali-G78. The GPU replaces the existing task manager with a command flow front end (CSF) which, according to Arm, helps meet the requirements of modern APIs such as Vulkan and future mobile game content trends. There is also a configurable number of cores, starting at seven cores and scaling up to 16 cores. The count is actually lower than the 24-core scalability available in the Mali-G78. However, Arm claims that the new GPU cores are bigger and better in performance and power efficiency.
Arm has also released Mali-G610 as its sub-premium GPU with new CSF similar to Mali-G710. It is, however, aimed at sub-premium smartphones that are priced lower than phones with the Mali-G710.
Additionally, the new portfolio features the Mali-G510 GPU, which is claimed to be 22% more power efficient over the Mali-G57 and enables a 100% increase in machine learning. It targets mid-range smartphones, premium DTVs, set-top boxes (STBs) and Chromebooks.
The Mali GPU lineup also has the Mali-G310, the stable low-end option that comes with six times better texturing performance, 4.5 times better Vulkan performance, and two times better Android UI content rendering over the Mali-G31.
Arm didn’t provide a timeline on when we would see the new CPUs and GPUs in devices on the market. However, considering the fact that chip makers will take some time to roll out the new technologies, it is likely that we will see some action in 2023. The arrival of the new Arm offerings will also phase out 32-bit chips and make 64-bit architecture more prominent.