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ARM launches new Cortex-A12 processor with new Mali-T622 GPU and Mali-V500 video processing

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ARM has released details of its new Cortex-A12 processor which is designed to be a successor to the very popular Cortex-A9. Aimed at the mid-range smartphone and tablet markets, the A12 is 40 percent faster than the A9 and can be used in a big.LITTLE implementation. The new Mali-T622 GPU is OpenGL ES 3.0 compliant but yet has a 50 percent greater energy-efficiency compared to the first-generation of Mali-T600 GPUs.

According to projections made by ARM and Gartner, 580 million mid-range smartphones and tablets will be sold in 2015. In preparation for this ARM has updated its mid-range offering and replaced the Cortex-A9 with the Cortex-A12. On top of the performance and energy improvements the A12 adds hardware support for OS virtualization and can address up to 1 Terabyte of physical memory. The A12 can also be used in a big.LITTLE configuration bringing the advantages of that architecture to the mid-range.

Technical bits

This is what the specification of the Cortex-A12 look like on paper:

  • ARMv7-A Cortex Architecture
  • Multicore 1-4X SMP within a single processor cluster
  • Multiple coherent processor clusters through AMBA® 4 technology
  • TrustZone® security technology
  • NEON™ Advanced SIMD
  • DSP & SIMD extensions
  • VFPv4 Floating point
  • Hardware virtualization support
  • Large Physical Address Extensions (LPAE)

TrustZone is a security related technology that is used in a range of applications including digital rights management and electronic payments. The NEON instructions are used to accelerate multimedia program such as video decoding and speech processing, while the DSP & SIMD extensions increase the DSP processing capability of the CPU and are used for things like Voice over IP (VOIP) as well as in video & audio codecs.

Because the Cortex-A12 uses the same ARMv7A architecture as the Cortex-A9 it is fully software compatible with the other Cortex processors and will support Android, Linux and even Windows right out of the box.

Mobile users expect a range of devices at different price points and for a mid-range mobile experience to include some high end mobile features.
Ian Drew, an EVP of ARM


There has been lots of discussion about the big.LITTLE architecture along with some recent worries about Samsung’s current implementation in the Exynos Octa 5. However it looks like big.LITTLE is here to stay as ARM has added the ability to use the Cortex-A12 in a big.LITTLE setup along with the Cortex-A7, effectively taking the place of the more expensive and power hungry Cortex-A15. This means that we will see more big.LITTLE implementations on mid-range SoCs in the future.

GPU and video processing

ARM has improved the GPU in the Cortex-A12. The new Mali-T622 is smaller and brings 50% energy efficiency improvements over the original Mali-T604. It also supports Renderscript Compute, OpenGL ES 3.0, DirectX 11 and OpenCL 1.1.  The new design can be used in a dual core configuration and can handle 4x Full Scene Anti-Aliasing (FSAA) with a minimal performance drop.

New to the Cortex-A12 is the addition of a dedicated video processing unit. The Mali-V500 is a multicore video solution and by adding it ARM have reduced the system bandwidth requirements by more than 50 percent when compared to …read more

Via: Android Authority