ARM have just launched the ARM Cortex-A5 MPCore processor - their first multicore processor intended for usage in mobile devices. According to the company this is the smallest and most power-efficient multicore processor that is capable of delivering the performance needed for smartphones and the cheap manufacturing desired for low-cost devices.
The ARM Cortex-A5 gamma features a wide range of CPUs - from the power-efficient uniprocessor (that we imagine will cost pennies to produce) to up to 4-core processor (that should be used on high-end multimedia powerhouses).
The new range of processors should deliver much better performance than its ARM11 predecessors, while still fitting within the size of the ARM9 units. At the same time the multi-core ARM Cortex-A5 should be nearly twice as power efficient, which should probably have quite an effect on mobile devices battery life. ARM11 is a pretty popular hardware platform for many Symbian smartphones. Even the the first two generations of Apple iPhone used ARM11 cores.
ARM state that the new Cortex-A5 is fully application compatible with the older Cortex-A8 and Cortex-A9 processors (currently used in popular devices such as the Sony Ericsson Satio, Nokia N900, Samsung Omnia HD, iPhone 3GS and Palm Pre), which means it should get along perfectly with0 all software platforms such as Android, Symbian, Windows Mobile, etc. We are yet to see however if all those platforms will be able to utilize the multi-core architecture to its fullest.
The Cortex-A5 processor is now available for general licensing, and shipments will start in Q4 of 2009. That means that we might be seeing the first prototypes utilizing it at the next GSM Congress in February.