According to a report in the EETimes, NEC is gearing up to show off a high performance quad-core processor built around ARM's Cortex-A9 design. The unveiling is expected to take place during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next week.
If true, NEC would join a fraternity of companies claiming a quad-core chip based on ARM architecture. During CES, for example, Marvell Technology said it had developed the world's first quad-core ARM chip, but did not provide any details. Marvell's design is said to run faster than 1GHz, though it's unclear if the chip is a custom design or built around ARM's Cortex-A9.
It's safe to say that NEC has been chomping at the bit to release a quad-core Cortex-A9 chip. The company first introduced a multi-core ARM processor back in 2005, which was made up of four ARM11 processors and considered a test chip based on the ARMv6 instruction set, EETimes reports.
ARM today said it has developed a pair of Cortex-A9 hard macro implementations which will enable devices to operate at 2GHz, and beyond. To achieve the additional speed without disregarding power consumption, the new design calls for a 40nm manufacturing process.
"The Cortex-A9 MPCore processor has already been widely accepted as the processor of choice for high-performance embedded applications across a broad spectrum of demanding consumer and enterprise devices," said Eric Schorn, VP marketing, Processor Division, ARM. "ARM’s parallel development of advanced, optimized physical IP components demonstrates a new level of collaborative differentiation while enabling our Partners to expand their penetration into high margin domains traditionally occupied by proprietary architectures."
According to ARM, chips built on the new design should consume just 0.25W per processor. TSMC will likely end up producing the bulk of the 40nm chips, though any company can start licensing the technology.
Where chips based on the new design ultimately end up is anyone's guess. The Archos 5 current uses the Cortex-A8 chip, as does Apple's iPhone 3GS.