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posted by Fnord666 on Thursday March 23 2017, @07:23PM   Printer-friendly
from the big.Little-just-couldn't-decide dept.

ARM will replace the big.LITTLE cluster design with a new one that allows up to 8 CPU cores per cluster, different types of cores within a cluster, and anywhere from one to many (unlimited?) clusters:

The first stage of DynamIQ is a larger cluster paradigm - which means up to eight cores per cluster. But in a twist, there can be a variable core design within a cluster. Those eight cores could be different cores entirely, from different ARM Cortex-A families in different configurations.

Many questions come up here, such as how the cache hierarchy will allow threads to migrate between cores within a cluster (perhaps similar to how threads migrate between clusters on big.Little today), even when cores have different cache arrangements. ARM did not yet go into that level of detail, however we were told that more information will be provided in the coming months.

Each variable core-configuration cluster will be a part of a new fabric, with uses additional power saving modes and aims to provide much lower latency. The underlying design also allows each core to be controlled independently for voltage and frequency, as well as sleep states. Based on the slide diagrams, various other IP blocks, such as accelerators, should be able to be plugged into this fabric and benefit from that low latency. ARM quoted elements such as safety critical automotive decisions can benefit from this.

A tri-cluster smartphone design using 2 high-end cores, 2 mid-level cores, and 4 low-power cores could be replaced by one that uses all three types of core in the same single cluster. The advantage of that approach remains to be seen.

More about ARM big.LITTLE.

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  • (Score: 2) by Snotnose on Thursday March 23 2017, @07:40PM (4 children)

    by Snotnose (1623) on Thursday March 23 2017, @07:40PM (#483360)

    Their high end chips had an old ARM (7?) for low level stuff, an ARM9 driving the phone, and an ARM11 for apps. All on 1 chunk of silicon. Haven't been there in 7-8 years, dunno what's in their new chips.

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  • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Thursday March 23 2017, @07:44PM (2 children)

    by FatPhil (863) <{pc-soylent} {at} {}> on Thursday March 23 2017, @07:44PM (#483366) Homepage
    If it was a phone SoC, it probably had up to 7 arm cores on it. The modem would have had an arm, the wi-fi would also have had an arm too, ...
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    • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Thursday March 23 2017, @08:24PM (1 child)

      by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Thursday March 23 2017, @08:24PM (#483380)

      That design does not seem very generalized.

      The workload should be able to shift to different cores if a significant number of ARM cores are destroyed within a Borg vessel.

      • (Score: 4, Informative) by jmorris on Friday March 24 2017, @01:27AM

        by jmorris (4844) <> on Friday March 24 2017, @01:27AM (#483466)

        The radio is always kept isolated to prevent the insecure Android side from possibly being able to get at the physical interface of the radio. Putting an entirely separate CPU, RAM and FLASH, often with only a serial link to the main CPU is secure, especially since the radio processor tends to only boot signed images. Some get cheap and use the newer ARM cpu's ability to partition off a really secure section of memory and run in a super better than ring 0 mode but I bet the FCC doesn't like it and makes that known. The Wifi is the same way, dedicated signed firmware on a dedicated CPU, usually connected by an internal USB link. Because those radios are basically a software defined radio that is physically capable of all sorts of fun things... IF we could get our hands on them. The FCC ain't having none of that.

        It really is crazy how many processing units a phone can stuff in. My old crappy Tegra3 based phone has four fast ARM cores, one slow ARM core, one ARM "AVP" core as a co-processor (it is actually the boot processor and does the secure boot stuff and starts the main one, then idles with it's own dedicated 256K block of static ram to help (along with yet another undocumented specialty processing unit) play media files and do sleep/wake, etc. Then there is a crypto processor that NVidia won't document in the tech manual, a couple of GPU cores, the radio is on an entirely different chip made by Intel with dedicated ram/flash. Same for BT, GPS and NFC, they have a small CPU in them, type unknown and there is even a little one in the SIM card. It truly is amazing the computing plenty we take for granted.

  • (Score: 2) by Hairyfeet on Friday March 24 2017, @07:34AM

    by Hairyfeet (75) <reversethis-{moc ... {8691tsaebssab}> on Friday March 24 2017, @07:34AM (#483555) Journal

    I think they are still making those, they are used in a couple of the $150-$200 BLU phones I've been looking at as well as some Alcatel One Touch models. IIRC the new ones are octocores and have 2 of the ARM 7s for low power tasks like checking email with the screen off, 2 of the ARM 9 for phone tasks, and 4 of the ARM 11s for the apps. Pretty impressive if you ask me.

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