ARM "outflanks" Intel with Cortex A5

Processor

British chip firm ARM says it's now attacking Intel from both sides with the launch of new Cortex A5 processor

ARM claims it's performing a "flanking manoeuvre" on Intel with the launch of its new Cortex A5 MPCore processor.

The British chip designer has become increasingly aggressive towards the chip giant in recent months. In September, ARM made a naked bid for Intel's netbook market with the launch of its Cortex A9 chip. Now ARM is hoping to attack Intel's Atom from the other side, with a processor aimed at more low-cost internet devices, such as smartphones.

The Cortex A5 will be taken across a huge range of more intelligent devices. Things like the Kindle, portable media players, set-top boxes

"This is essentially a flanking manoeuvre," ARM's vice president of marketing, Eric Schom told PC Pro. "It [Intel] is in netbooks today and it wants to be in smartphones. We're going to unlock a whole lot more [product] categories."

"The Cortex A5 will be taken across a huge range of more intelligent devices," Schom added. "Things like the Kindle, portable media players, set-top boxes - anything with data to capture."

Schom claims the Cortex A5 is "an order of magnitude smaller" than Intel's Atom, making it less expensive to produce and less power hungry. He says Intel would have to shrink Atom to the 15nm process to "approach parity" with the Cortex A5, which Schom says "is a decade out".

The Cortex A5 can be used in single or up to quad-core configurations, depending on the performance requirements of the device it's powering. ARM says the processor is fully application compatible with the A9, meaning developers won't have to recode their apps.

Schom claims the A5 is "running and booting in the labs" and that the company will have it finished before the end of the year. However, he adds that there "tends to be a two or three year gap between our delivering a processor and it appearing [inside products] in the shops".

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