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Freescale to use ARM's 'big-little' processor scheme

Posted: 25 Oct 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:applications processors? 'big-LITTLE' processing? multimedia applications?

Freescale Semiconductor Inc. has revealed that it is licensing ARM Holding plc's new Cortex-A7 MPCore processor in conjunction with the previously licensed Cortex-A15 processor.

The company plans to leverage the energy efficiency and performance of both ARM cores to develop future generations of its expanding i.MX applications processors. Freescale will incorporate ARM Cortex-A7 and Cortex-A15 processors in single-core and multicore i.MX devices that feature software and pin compatibility and target embedded, automotive infotainment and smart mobile device applications. For less performance-demanding tasks, the Cortex-A15 processor can power down, while the Cortex-A7 processor will handle lighter-duty processing. This approach is dubbed by ARM as "Big.LITTLE processing."

'Big-little' scheme for ARM graphics?
ARM is also planning to employ the "big-little" scheme to its graphics processors. Learn more about the story here.
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By employing the "big-little" approach, a SoC leverages two different, but compatible, processing engines within the same device, allowing the power management software to seamlessly select the right processor for the task. This approach helps reduce overall system power consumption and extends battery life for mobile devices.

"The high-performance Cortex-A15 processor and ultra-efficient Cortex-A7 processor will play a key role in delivering the 'just-right' blend of performance, power consumption and price our customers have come to expect from the i.MX portfolio," said Bernd Lienhard, vice president and general manager of Freescale's multimedia applications division. "We see great opportunities ahead with these ARM technologies and look forward to using them to create highly scalable, innovative i.MX solutions for a wide range of exciting markets," Lienhard added.

"ARM and Freescale have enjoyed a close relationship for many years and this agreement is the latest development," said Lance Howarth, executive vice president of marketing for ARM. "Working with partners across the industry, ARM continues to develop advanced, energy-efficient processors for a range of markets and applications. Our technology, combined with Freescale's expertise in deploying and optimizing advanced SoCs, represents an exciting prospect for consumers and our mutual customers."

Future i.MX offerings based on the ARM cores will be designed to feature the same compatibility and power management benefits that are the hallmark of Freescale's i.MX portfolio. Common SoC IP building blocks enable portfolio-wide software and development tool compatibility, while integrated power management capabilities, a broad range of integrated I/Os and pin compatibility within package families reduce complexity and development costs. These benefits help customers rapidly create comprehensive product portfolios that can adjust and scale to meet evolving market demands and requirements.

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