ARM steps up chip performance to catch up with Intel, AMD

SHARE


Can ARM chips compete neck-and-neck with Intel and AMD on benchmarks? That could be happening sooner than you think.

Starting next year, ARM processors will get significantly faster thanks to big changes in the company’s Cortex-A chip designs. ARM is taking a page from rivals like AMD that have focused on raising the performance threshold in chips.

ARM isn’t known for superfast chips; it is instead mainly associated with power-efficient chips that give long battery life to devices. That focus has helped the company succeed in mobile devices, an area where Intel’s power hungry chips failed.

But applications like virtual reality and machine learning need more performance, and ARM is preparing its processors to take on those emerging applications. ARM is adding more cores, instructions, and faster pipelines in smaller spaces to boost performance.

The new features are packaged under the term “DynamIQ” and will be in upcoming Cortex chips for mobile, PC, server, and internet-of-things devices.

Performance metrics will come when ARM announces the first chip designs with DynamIQ features, which could happen early next year, said John Ronco, vice president of product marketing.

DynamIQ adds more performance without compromising ARM’s power efficiency focus, Ronco said. Most devices from ARM don’t require cooling fans, and that will remain the case with DynamIQ features in chip designs.

The improvements increase the possibility of Apple switching over to ARM architecture on its Macs. That hasn’t happened yet as Intel’s mainstream Core chips are significantly faster than current ARM processors. Like other chipmakers, Apple licenses ARM architecture, which it already uses in iPhones, iPads, and other devices.