ARM announces 16nm Cortex-A72 CPU and Mali-T880 GPU

by: Robert TriggsFebruary 3, 2015

ARM has just announced several new and improved technologies for future mobile devices, including its latest Cortex-A72 CPU and powerhouse Mali-T880 graphics processing unit.

Starting with the new CPU design, the Cortex-A72 is another high performance CPU core design, built on the same ARMv8 architecture as the current Cortex-A53 and A57. According to the release, the Cortex-A72 offers up to 3.5 times the peak performance of the last generation Cortex-A15 CPU, but consumes 75 percent less power. It should also surpass the Cortex-A53’s performance by more than 50 percent.


Part of this power saving comes from the move to a 16nm FinFET manufacturing design, which will improve energy efficiency over the current 20nm designs and/or allow for clock speeds up to 2.5GHz. ARM is also looking to improve its big.LITTLE architecture to make the most of the Cortex-A72, which the company believes can further reduce energy consumption by another 40 to 60 percent, depending on the workload.

Cortex A72 ARM Big Little 2015

To help accomplish this, ARM is introducing its new CoreLink CCI-500 cache coherent interconnect. Along with reducing system power by enhanced big.LITTLE integration, the CCI-500 also improves system bandwidth for faster processor memory performance, up 30 percent compared with the CCI-400, and higher resolution content.

CoreLink CCI-500 ARM SoC 4k

That’s not all, ARM has also announced its latest high-end Mali-T880 GPU design. The T880 is said to offer almost double the performance of the current high-end Mali-T760, found in SoCs such as the Samsung Exynos 5433. Again, rather substantial energy efficiencies have been made, with ARM boasting a 40 percent energy reduction for the same workloads.

ARM Mali T-880 T-82 2015

Combined with an energy efficient Cortex-A53 big.LITTLE companion and ARM’s Mali-V550 video and Mali-DP550 display processors, the Cortex-A72 and Mali-T880 make up ARM’s latest POP IP specifically designed for 16nm FinFET manufacturing. This reference design will likely find a home in a number of upcoming mobile devices.

  • DrakerZero

    Holy f**king sh*t,2015 will just take everything to another insane level.Just imagine what Qualcomm and nvidia will do after they create their own
    custom cores based on this.

    • Itamar Baum

      It won’t take anything anywhere. The phibea today are already so powerful, and NO apps take full advantage of it yet. With today’s phones you can do insane things if the software was good.

  • MasterMuffin

    I find the lack of logic in the numbers disturbing.

  • namesib

    Damn, too late for the March flagships.

    • Abel

      And too late for the autumn flagships

  • ibrahim speed

    Give me i7-like-cortex cpu and 1 teraflops gpu!!! And the current call no too!!

    • wat

      an 8 core A72 would probably benchmark higher than the lowest Haswell i7-u processors, and the NVidia X1 has >1teraflop of processing power.

  • Roberto Tomás

    I wonder who’s phone number that is … :)

  • Anonymousfella

    2016?! Too far away…

    • Cao Meo

      Well phones released this year must have the SoCs in production already, and the manufacturers must have time to upgrade equipments

  • Itamar Baum

    problproblem is that even though the hardware gets stronger and stronger it seems that the developers are just plain laz. I mean last last years processors had more graphic power than the PlayStation 3 abs yet, it is hard to find graphicly pleasing games, and most are 2d games like candy crush. So even though I am using a low end phone (80$ the t6s) I fkns that my phone works just as well as the galaxy s5. (No lag in clash of clans).
    Somehow I have the feeling that today’s apps could run on a 4 year old phone well if they where well coded. And the potential of todays chips would be no less than what is available on the ps4 at the moment (no not PC graphics yet, that needs to wait)
    For example the ps4 has 1.3 teraflops of computing power. The tegea x1 has 1tb. So you may say that there is no way that the ps4 apps will run on a 1tf device. Bit try to remember the difference In graphics of the early games of ps3 and the late games.

    • The Calm Critic

      I’d argue that there’s a bigger SoC efficiency + batt life problem rather than a lack of graphics intensive apps from where I sit. Also the fact that said apps are being forced to scale up when it’s available, to what’s an even crazier trend of jacking up screen resolutions for sub 6 inch screens. Not that I completely disagree with you but the key problem remains the same otherwise; the more powerful hardware gets, the more “luxury” there is for devs to slack off.

    • stucrmnx120fshwf

      I’m with you there, I’ve got 192 GPUs on my Nvidia K1, Nexus 9, running on a 64 bit Denver processor, with a 64 bit operating system. The games performance isn’t spectacular, the Nexus 10 had as many processors, as much RAM, as much flash, more pixels. Wish they’d be compact, innovative and reliable with their code, on the idea of Qualcom and Samsung, designing their own chip architecture. Why less standardisation, brilliant, all three major platforms have bugs, lets make it more difficult. Qualcom uses AMD graphics and ARM CPU architecture, its just that they’re good at adding 4G LTE. Samsung has good chip foundries, changing the designs, as well as putting a different operating system in the devices, way to look for trouble.

      • Itamar Baum

        Its no only that, people will pay 60$ for a ps4 game but a 10$ game for android is xonxiderd insanly expensive. So even though the phones have the power. No developers will work hard for it. Because non will pay the fee. Bobly other option in a freemium like the new need for speed.

        Sadly, this is why i think windows got it right. A single OS for everything.

        • stucrmnx120fshwf

          Not sure I follow you on Windows, yes it’s one operating system that does a lot of different things, but so is android with over a million apps, iOS, Sony doesn’t run Windows on it’s games machines. It would be better if widows could run Android apps, maybe that’s why they might be buying Cyanogen, we might need bigger games, real racing 3 comes in at 1 GB. You can buy a 64 GB cat 10 micro SD card for $25 when it’s on special, a One Plus One smartphone has 64 GB inbuilt, 3GB of RAM and is half the price of a Nexus 6, so the next generation of phablets could have 128 GB of flash, 4 GB of 64 bit graphics RAM.

          • Itamar Baum

            I ment the new windows 10. A single operating system for PC. Laptop. Hybrid. Tablet. And phone. So if it is done well (doubt it, Microsoft after all) it could be possible to write a single code for all platforms. And simply he input changes according to what system you use (touch instead of mouse.). So in theory all PC games would be able to run on a phone.

          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            Yes I’ve got the new Windows 10 technical preview, having a tight, reliable core operating system, is a good idea, Xbox can inform them, lots of hardware, cloud computing services, appps. I’m running it from a 120 GB flash drive, with 4 cores, 7 series AMD graphics, 16 GB of RAM, if they’ve made it more like Xbox and Windows Phone I’d be happier, I want to see how compact I can make, it by doing a factory reset.

          • Itamar Baum

            I don’t think that needs to be the matter, phones now adays are as oowerfull as a 3-4 year old laptop. And seeing as the winfows 10 is lighter than 8 and they run 8 I doubt it will be an issue

          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            One thing I will say of windows devices, the price per GB of flash inbuilt is very good, putting the lie to high internal flash prices, on high end Android and iOS devices. The operating system takes up more space, but your still ahead of the game. I’ve got a 32 GB flash, 2 GB RAM, dual boot Windows 8.1 / Android 4.4 Kit Kat tablet coming in from China for $125 AU, that must be around $100 US. My $600 AU Nexus 9 has 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of flash true the screen is better, there’s more graphics power, but the cheapie, is also 64 bit. Intel Bay Trail, with twice the graphics of a Nexus 5, just been reading about Samsung’s combined 32 GB flash, 2 GB RAM chips.

            Android 5.1 may be coming out soon, Android 5.01 wasn’t reliable, until I did a factory reset. Windows is more RAM hungry, especially with 64 bit operating systems, I don’t know why we’ve been stuck on 2 GB of RAM, since the Nexus 4, 7 (2013,)10. I take your point, these are powerful devices, 64 bit, 192 GPUs.

          • Itamar Baum

            Dealextreme have an i8 minicomputer that looks interesting, quite a bit like what you talked about. I think ill give it a look

          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            Did that factory reset on Windows 10, after updates and graphics software, came to 30 GBs. Still pretty big, but the phone and Xbox software, would be an abbreviated version.

    • Mehmed

      There are some problems but mostly, you’re correct. Phones which are faster graphicswise are the Adreno 430, Tegra K1 and X1, Mali T880(will also be)
      But the CPU which also helps the ps3 a lot is not that powerful. This will change a bit with Cortex A72. I think the successor of the A72 will match the PS3 cpuwise. There is another problem. The OS. While the Xbox and PS3 had a little OS, Android for example is a quite big OS. There is another problem. Up until now the bandwidth of the memory was much less than the ps3 which had 25,6 gbits. Now the 2015 generation mostly has this bandwidth. But there is another problem which is the high overhead. Opengl es 3.1. It’s also not as complex as opengl 4.5
      But in August Vulkan API will be launched which will bring a reduced overhead like dx12, metal, mantle, console APIs.
      Which means… Yeah, developers are lazy but real ps3 like Graphics are just possibly at the end of 2016. We also need UFS to match hdd performance.

    • Mehmed

      No my friend. The ps4 has 1.84 tflops, the Tegra x1 has 0,5 tflops. It’s more than 3x times.
      Tegra x1 has just 1tflop with fp16, half precision. In that area the ps4 has 3,7 tflops.

  • Kass

    Up to 350% the peak performance whilst consuming 75% less energy? What sorcery is this, ARM?!

    Clearly, the energy consumption is not at peak performance – they must be taking the best of two worlds and combining them together to form the perfect marketing soup, because even the die shrink wouldn’t explain them numbers.

    • Francisco Franco


      • Kass

        Again, a die shrink will not account for numbers like this if you get the performance and energy efficiency at the same operating window. It’s a case of either one or the other. Not both – not at that scale, not at once.

        Either my suspicions are correct or ARM found something else in their designs that brought this boost. Time will tell.

        • Abel

          I think you are right about the best of both worlds, it can’t be possible to achieve this much power efficiency with only a die shrink. They would need a whole new architecture

          • Pumpkin King

            Though all the companies always make the same claims

  • da

    +16504793208 guys, clear it, aa. Might trigged some “Phone Guy” from FNAF.

  • Roberto Tomás

    something I noticed .. 350% the performance of current A15s would make it just about on par with modern desktop computers. I saw a Haswell get ~120k in Antutu, and that’s just 3 times todays sub-premium phones.

    • The Calm Critic

      “I saw a Haswell get ~120k in Antutu,”
      Bear in mind that that’s Antutu numbers you’re talking about. A tool not made for benchmarking whole x86-64 CPUs as far as accuracy goes (while we’re at it jury is still out on Antutu’s consistency for what it’s made for even) and 3x above sub premium phones alone proves that the ludicrous result is just…ludicrous.

      • Roberto Tomás

        voted you up. :)

        well, on the flip side, it isn’t like the benchmark isn’t linear .. so there is at least some reasonable approximation of performance for which PCs are not particularly well suited.

        For what it is worth, using geekbench and premium phones, you see about 5x difference in performance. however, I have my own doubts about geekbench and eight core ARM processors… I think they can do better; a little better in single core maybe, but definitely a lot better in multicore. both Intel and Apple’s cores score roughly a 1:1 ratio for multicore .. ie a single core score of 1 results in a dual core score of ~2. But for ARM 8 core setups, the ratio is around 1:4, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it shows that part of the benchmark failed to compile.

  • The Calm Critic

    75% less power my ass…. Some overzealous marketing asshat are just giddy right now at OEMs w/ own display techs (hazard a guess if you want) to pitch a friggin 8K screen next week.

  • Georg Pichler

    Just saying, the Screenshot with the Skype call window and phone number is still online and comes up quite prominently when googling for “Cortex-A72” images. <- you should probably take this off your servers :)