Imagine a sub-$100 smartphone with serious processing power that lasts all day (or longer) on a charge. Sounds like a dream device, right? Today, ARM took a serious step toward making that dream come true with the introduction of the ARM Cortex-A7 MP Core processor, which is designed for smartphones and tablets and has 5x the energy efficiency of the current Cortex A8 processor.
It's a system-on-a-chip dubbed big.LITTLE flexible processing that actually houses two processors: a high performance Cortex A15 MP Core and a power-sipping Cortex A7. The Cortex A7 handles less processor-intensive tasks such as checking e-mail, voice calls, refreshing social media feeds, and playing music.
When a graphically demanding game or a navigation program is loaded up, the Cortex A15 is activated to handle the workload. By only using the heavy-duty processor when it's actually needed, the chip uses less power, which results in longer battery life. It's not unlike AMD's Fusion technology or Nvidia's Optimus technology, both of which only call upon the graphics chip when it's really needed as a way to save power.
ARM's press release notes that this will bring sub-$100 entry level smartphones to market that are comparable in performance to today's $500 high-end smartphones. The future is a little ways off though, as ARM doesn't expect devices with these chips to be available until some time around 2013-2014. In the meantime, we'll keep dreaming of fast, power-balanced smartphones with extra long battery life.