ARM’s new Cortex A12: Why this is a processor you should care about

For all intents and purposes, every smartphone and tablet on the market uses ARM’s technology in one way or another. ARM, unlike Intel, designs processors that they then let anyone use to make their own chips. Samsung’s Exynos chips, MediaTek’s chips, Huawei’s chips, LG’s soon to be unveiled chips, they all use ARM. Apple and Qualcomm have an ARM architecture license, meaning they design their own processors that are compatible with ARM’s instruction set.

Today, three of ARM’s most popular processors are the Cortex A7, the Cortex A9, and the Cortex A15. The relatively new A7 is an A9 that delivers almost the same performance, but is drastically smaller. The A9 has been in phones for years now, and it’s starting to show its age. The A15 powers Samsung’s Galaxy S4 … but only if you’re in one of the few countries lucky enough to get the GS4 with a Samsung chip instead of a Qualcomm chip.

Here’s where ARM’s newest processor comes in, the A12. As you can guess, the A12 is more powerful than the A9, but not as powerful as the A15. ARM says it’s roughly the same size as an A9, but it’s 40% faster whilst consuming the same amount of energy. More importantly, ARM says the A12 will be powering the bulk of cheap Android smartphones slated to come out in H2 2014.

We’ll obviously have to wait to do our own benchmarks, but this should have you excited if you’re not a fan of buying $700 smartphones. ARM also announced a new GPU called the Mali-T622 and a new video encode/decode block called the Mali-V500. Details are scant at the moment however.

[Recommended Reading: AnandTech]