updated 08:30 am EDT, Mon July 27, 2009
Samsung 1GHz ARM CPU
Samsung today unveiled a new ARM processor that could show the direction for future smartphones. Nicknamed Hummingbird, the design uses the same Cortex-A8 architecture as the chip in the iPhone 3GS but clocks at 1GHz, significantly higher than the 833MHz of its previous best. The feat is accomplished both by a smaller, more energy-efficient 45 nanometer process as well as partly customized circuits designed to handle the load.
In ramping up the performance, the company says the processor can handle up to 2 billion instructions per second but will consume only 640mW of power and doesn't need more than 1V of voltage. As a Cortex-A8 chip, Hummingbird is a dual-issue (two instructions at a time) processor with special media extensions, known as Neon, that can speed up common audio or video tasks.
Customers haven't been named for the processor, although Samsung makes it clear it sees Hummingbird reaching "advanced mobile devices" once it's turned into standard system-on-chip processors. Apple has been one of Samsung's larger customers for ARM processors, although it has typically underclocked the processor for the iPhone to accommodate the heat concerns in the tight enclosure.