ARM shapes A73 processor features for ‘immersive mobile experience’

June 01, 2016 // By Graham Prophet
In its latest release, ARM has announced mobile processor and graphics-unit technologies that it has optimised for applications tasks such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) on forthcoming high-end mobile devices. The ARM Cortex-A73 processor and the ARM Mali-G71 graphics processor offer sustained performance and efficiency gains that will lead to new products with enhanced contextual and visual capabilities. This will allow devices to run high resolution content for longer periods while staying within strict mobile power budgets.

The ARM Cortex-A73 core offers increases in sustained performance and efficiency; the Mali-G71 graphics processor offers efficiency and performance gains from its new Bifrost architecture. The IP is optimized for the latest 10nm FinFET process technology.


The Mali-G71 graphics processor unit (GPU) enables a 50% increase in graphics performance, a 20% increase in power-efficiency and 40% more performance per square millimetre of silicon.


The Mali-G71 scales efficiently up to 32 shader cores, twice as many as the previous generation premium IP GPU – the Mali-T880. The uplift means the Mali-G71 surpasses the performance of many discrete GPUs found in today's mid-range laptops. The product is also fully coherent, helping to simplify software development and efficiency. It is suited to power immersive VR and AR experiences on mobile devices and ARM says that silicon providers including HiSilicon, MediaTek and Samsung Electronics have already taken licenses.


Bifrost, the third-generation ARM GPU architecture, is the foundation of the Mali-G71. The architecture is optimized for Vulkan and other industry-standard APIs, building on innovations from the previous Utgard and Midgard architectures.


ARM adds that at under 0.65 mm ² per core (on a 10nm FinFET process technology) the Cortex-A73 is the smallest and most efficient 'big' ARMv8-A core. Its advanced mobile microarchitecture enables a 30% uplift in sustained performance and power efficiency over the Cortex-A72. Size and efficiency improvements enhance the ability of silicon providers to use the Cortex-A73 in ARM big.LITTLE configurations. These improvements create further opportunities for designers to scale big cores along with the GPU and other IP in a single SoC. Ten partners have licensed the Cortex-A73 so far, including HiSilicon, Marvell and Mediatek.


Cadence Design Systems, in a parallel announcement, is supporting this core release with rapid adoption kits based on a 10nm reference [design] flow. Cadence says the kits (RAKs) are based on the latest digital implementation and signoff technologies optimized to work with