Friday, 12 November 2010

ARM's Cortex-A15 CPU, and how it will change your world

[From a discussion on LinkedIn (registration may be required to read it).]

Steve Liebson wrote a recent article on the ARM Cortex-A15 MPCore processor, launched at the ARM Technology Conference in Santa Clara on the 10th November 2010. It's a very interesting read.

ARM is closing in on the Big Iron server market, Intel's traditional home ground, with a processor capable of 2.5GHz operation, eight or even 16 cores per chip, and some smart interconnects and support to make them fly. It's an open secret that Amazon, Google and other intensely server-critical firms are keeping a watching brief, as the A15 promises remarkable improvements on their power consumption and heat dissipation problems. It's hard to believe that VMWare, Citrix1 and other cloud infrastructure providers don't have at least tentative roadmaps for rolling out their Type 1 hypervisor products to the A15.

What few people seem to be picking up upon, though, is how the A15 could change the corporate desktop market too.

Of course, it all depends upon the power figures, which, as Steve notes, ARM isn't yet publishing, but try this for size...

Put a dual-core 2.5GHz Cortex-A15 in a tablet and load Android 3. Make a desktop drop-in charge/kbd/mouse cradle for it - maybe inductive charging and Bluetooth inputs so it's contactless. Now you've a tool that will act as a touchscreen PC on your desk, or grab it from the cradle and bring it to meetings as a note-taking tablet. You've got the performance of an Apple desktop or mid-range PC product when you need it, and it should run a lot cooler than a laptop.

It's been a fair while coming but if the industry gets the right ideas, this could well be the processor that killed the PC and (with Android) stood up to Apple on its own ground.

So here's the real left-field question: given the power and BoM cost savings, how long now before Apple ditches Intel completely for ARM?

1 Since writing this article, the author has provided paid consultancy to Citrix. The comments made above are solely the author's own, were not made in the light of any "inside information" obtained from Citrix or its current or former staff, and have not been updated since the start of that consultancy, other than to add this footnote. Oh, and this footnote was added entirely from the author's free will - as a declaration of interests, not because of any lawyerly intervention or contractual obligation.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jon, What about the Apple A4?
    It is being ruled out in Apple products and it is not a "... Inside" product ;)