Power consumption in hand-held devices is always a key design issue. With the advent of LTE always on connectivity and ever more complex multi-media and resource hungry applications, power demands continue to escalate. In addition, the complexity of applications software means porting across generations and variants of chipsets can require large resource investments by both the silicon provider and the device OEM and can lead to product launch delays. At Renesas Mobile we see two advantages arising from the big.LITTLE™ concept in the context of the next generation communications processors and platforms which we are designing, namely reduced time to market and power savings.
Reducing time to market through software compatibility
Renesas Mobile sees the big.LITTLE concept as a great chance to develop a chipset family concept. With the system compatibility of the ARM CortexTM-A7 and Cortex-A15 processors, we are able to design and bring up devices with a variety of different CPU configurations from multiple Cortex-A7 CPU cores through mixed multiple Cortex-A7 + Cortex-A15 processors as well as clusters of Cortex-A15 processors only. All this with binary software compatibility across the compute engines. In today’s extremely fast moving environment, this software compatibility is crucial to speed time to market, reducing the development cycle and allowing multiple platforms and products to be created using the same software thereby reducing the software investment needed.
Additional power saving opportunity
Besides this, the big.LITTLE concept in the high-end provides an additional power saving methodology. As Renesas Mobile focuses on LTE smartphone platforms, it is very important for us to use every methodology and opportunity that is available to reduce overall system power consumption whilst meeting the performance needs and expectations of the users. Smartphones in the LTE era are very power hungry. This means that we need to take extra effort to reduce power consumption. The massive throughput that LTE enables demands high performance application CPU and CPU cores to make use of the data in a compelling highly visual way. Multi-core devices are becoming standard in the smartphone market.
Unfortunately, this great expansion of the user experience leads directly to higher power consumption. The amount of video, audio or image processing requires new concepts to reduce the system power consumption to live within the constraints of the available battery technology.
Renesas Mobile has put considerable effort into the big.LITTLE concept working together with ARM to provide input on the mobile requirements. The need for software compatibility was brought up early on. We know that this put a lot of challenges onto the ARM architects, but the result is convincing. We look forward to creating compelling platforms for our customers based on application processors and communications processors using the Cortex-A7 and Cortex-A15 processors, and big.LITTLE.
Guest Partner Blogger:
ARM welcomes its wealth of Partners in the ARM Connected Community (CC) to submit guest blogs to be published on our multiple community blogs. If interested in participating please submit email inquiries to Tell.Us@arm.com.
The ARM Connected Community (CC) is an extensive ecosystem covering all aspects of ARM processor-based design, from chip implementation through to system and device design. The CC provides a platform for collaborative innovation, with multiple types of forums for members to work with one another, and with customers, to solve industry challenges, all with the purpose of enabling designers to focus on differentiating features and an accelerated time-to-market for ARM powered solutions.
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