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Digitimes Research: Cortex-A17 to take over ARM high-end/mid-range 32-bit business
Eric Lin, DIGITIMES Research, Taipei [Tuesday 4 March 2014]

Digitimes Research considers ARM's new Cortex-A17 and existing Cortex-A12 processors to be basically the same based on their architectures, except for the Cortex-A17's support for big.LITTLE architecture. As to why ARM created the Cortex-A17, Digitimes Research believes the chip designer is trying to prompt its clients to adopt the platform while its 64-bit architecture becomes mature in order to provide consumers with an optimized usage experience. The Cortex-A17 is inferior to the Cortex-A15 in terms of compute performance, but the processor has a friendlier price and lower power consumption compared to the Cortex-A15.

In addition, the release of the Cortex-A17 also marked the end of ARM's 32-bit product development. In the future, ARM will have the Cortex-A17 handle its mid-range and high-end 32-bit processor business and leave the Cortex-A7 in charge of the entry-level 32-bit processor business. Processors released prior to the Cortex-A15 will all gradually be phased out, with new processors being developed to natively use a 64-bit architecture.

Although the Cortex-A17 is mainly looking to fill the Cortex-A12's missing big.LITTLE architecture with a slight compute performance improvement through enhancing some memory management systems, Digitimes Research still believes the Cortex-A17 will be the best solution before the arrival of the 64-bit Android era due to its advantages in power consumption and price/performance ratio despite its inferior in compute performance against the Cortex-A15.

For ARM, even once 64-bit systems has become available, over 2-3 years will still be required before the 64-bit architecture becomes standardized and starts contributing benefits. Initially, besides the development of high-end 64-bit hardware, ARM is expected to spare some of its focus to the performance of 32-bit product lines and the release of the Cortex-A17 is meant to avoid the weak performance of its entry-level hardware such as the Cortex-A53 from affecting its competitiveness in the market.

Content from this blog post was provided by the Digitimes Research Tracking team, which focuses on shipment data and market trends in the global mobile device supply chain. Digitimes Research provides quarterly tracking services for market sectors such as Global Tablet, China Smartphone, China Smartphone AP, China Touch Panel, Taiwan ICT and Taiwan FPD. Click here for more information about Digitimes Research Tracking services.

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