UPDATED: ARM unveils 2016 smartphone processor IP, as Qualcomm flaunts smartphone vendor support

ARM unveiled a new processor IP it said offers 50-times better performance than silicon from five years ago, as Qualcomm--one of the UK company's customers--sought to ease concerns over its smartphone processor prowess following reports Samsung is dropping the company's high-end Snapdragon 801 processor.

The UK-headquartered chip maker said its new design features an ARM Cortex-A72 central processing unit (CPU) that offers the highest performance of any CPU available today and will deliver industry-leading graphics and processing performance when paired with the accompanying suite of silicon and software.

That suite includes the new CoreLink CCI-500 Cache Coherent Interconnect, which ARM said enables higher system bandwidth to improve efficiency, and the new Mali-T880 GPU (graphics processing unit) that ARM said offers console-quality gaming and graphics. Optimisation options for the TSMC 16nm FinFET+ process--a production method TSMC states can provide a 65 per cent increase in speed--are included in the suite.

"Our new premium mobile experience IP suite with the Cortex-A72 processor delivers a decisive step forward from the compelling user experiences provided by this year's Cortex-A547 based devices," said Pete Hutton, EVP and President of ARM's products group.

ARM predicted that the first devices using its new processor will hit the market in 2016, enabling the delivery of "even slimmer, lighter, more immersive mobile devices that serve as your primary and only compute platform," Hutton noted.

The UK chip maker announced the new IP suite a day after Qualcomm hit back at the loss of major customer Samsung by announcing that at least 60 high-end mobile devices running its Snapdragon 810 processor are set to launch during 2015.

New devices using the Snapdragon 810 processor include the LG G Flex2 and the Xiaomi Mi Note Pro. A Qualcomm statement revealed other big name vendors including Sony, HTC, Microsoft and Motorola Mobility (which was acquired by Lenovo in 2014) are also lining up device launches using the processor.

"The smartphone experience at the premium tier will be defined by products that don't compromise on performance, connectivity and entertainment, and Snapdragon 810 will be at the heart of enabling these features," noted Murthy Renduchintala, EVP at Qualcomm Technologies and co-president of the company's QCT division.

Qualcomm's statement regarding the number of leading device makers currently lining up product launches came a fortnight after Reuters reported that Samsung, a long-time major customer of the U.S. company, is ditching Snapdragon processors in favour of its own silicon in its forthcoming Galaxy S6 flagship smartphone, which is tipped to be launched on the eve of the Mobile World Congress on Mar. 1, the Independent reported.

For more:
- see ARM's announcement
- see this explanation of TSMC 16FF+
- read Qualcomm's statement
- view this Reuters article on Samsung
- view this Independent report

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Article updated Feb. 4, 2015 at 4:27 p.m. GMT to correct the relationship between ARM and Qualcomm.

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