ARM Introduces Three New Processors Aimed at 5G Devices

The three chips shown were the Cortex-A76 CPU, the Mali-G76 GPU and the Mali-V76 video processing unit, the latter of which is aimed at high-end mobile devices and laptops. All will be available when 5G devices begin coming out at the end of the year.

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IT is always looking to find the Next Big Thing. Here in mid-2018, that Thing would be 5G connectivity.

What will drive this trend, of course, will be swift new chips optimized for that networking standard. At least two major IT product and service makers, Qualcomm and ARM, appear to be in front of the line to take advantage of what’s coming next year when 5G phones begin filtering into the economy.

Verizon is on record as saying it will start 5G cellular service late this year; AT&T has announced it will start 5G service later this year in 12 cities; T-Mobile, Sprint and Korea Telecom are aiming at early 2019. New devices with new processors will need to be available to take advantage of all of 5G’s benefits (see below).

ARM had its say about all this on May 31, when it introduced three new processors that it expects to be best-sellers. The chip maker, which owns a healthy 35 percent of its global market, will be in an advantageous position awaiting telecom equipment makers to knock before the first 5G phones begin arriving next year.

The three chips shown were the Cortex-A76 CPU, the Mali-G76 GPU and the Mali-V76 video processing unit, the latter of which is aimed at high-end mobile devices and laptops. Here’s how ARM described them:

  • Arm Cortex-A76 CPU: New microarchitecture enabling 35 percent more performance year-over-year for increased productivity. ARM said the Cortex-A76 will bring “laptop performance in a smartphone experience.” The new processor is expected to deliver a 35 percent boost in performance while increasing battery efficiency by 40 percent, compared to its predecessor, Cortex-A75. The performance gains may turn out to be even higher in laptops, where ARM is projecting a 2X improvement over it current chips.
  • Arm Mali-V76 VPU: Enables UHD 8K viewing experiences across more devices. During the last five years, ARM said it has seen CPU performance on smartphones increase an average of 20-plus percent every year without compromising battery life. However, the same cannot be said for laptops reliant on other architectures, which have struggled to adapt to a slowing Moore’s Law over the last few years. They have delivered annual performance gains averaging only single-digit percentages while failing to enable any significant increases in battery life, the company said. The Mali-V76 VPU is capable of decoding 8K video at 60 frames per second, or supporting four 4K streams at 60fps. This performance is more than adequate to handle the demands of streaming video, and it should support the growing demand for high-resolution virtual and augmented reality applications.

Why 5G is Such a Big Deal

Why is 5G going to be such a major step forward, as opposed to previous iterations from 2G, to 3G to 4G? There are many reasons—a key one being that a 5G phone will never need Wi-Fi for anything.  

Here are a few of the reasons 5G is not hype but in fact a major breakthrough in telecommunications:

  • 5G-enabled smartphones: With 5G, consumers will never again need to log on to public Wi-Fi. They will also enjoy faster browsing, faster downloads, better quality video calls, UHD and 360-degree video streaming and instant cloud access than currently available.
  • Always-connected PCs: With the advent of 5G networks, "Always Connected" PCs will be able to utilize super high speed, low latency connectivity for the next level of cloud services, as well as high-quality video conferencing, interactive gaming and increased productivity due to the flexibility to work anywhere.
  • HMDs: 5G enhanced mobile broadband will further elevate virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and extended reality (XR) experiences with its increased capacity at lower cost and ultra-low latency - down to 1 millisecond.
  • Mobile broadband: Fiber speeds and massive capacity to support insatiable consumer demand for unlimited data, as well as superior mobile and home broadband internet access.

These products won't be seeing the light of day until 2019, but there is plenty of pent-up demand for this kind of performance.

“Mobility is freedom – freedom from wires, freedom to be flexible in working, freedom from not having to recharge your mobile device after a day’s worth of use, freedom to choose how you want to connect to make sure you are ready for the 5G revolution,” Rene Haas, president of ARM’s IP products group, wrote in a blogppost.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...