ARM announces the Cortex-A78C CPU for laptops with up to 8 big cores
In May, ARM announced its latest IP for mobile in the form of the Cortex-A78 CPU, Mali-G78 GPU, and the Ethos-N78 NPU. The company also announced its Cortex-X Custom (CXC) program, with the Cortex-X1 being the first CPU core under the program. The program allows for customization and differentiation beyond the traditional roadmap of ARM’s Cortex products. The company says it has seen great success with this generation of ARM-based processors and the rapid expansion into markets outside of traditional phones. Now, the company is looking to address some of these markets with its latest CPU product, the Cortex-A78C.
The ARM Cortex-A78C CPU is a new CPU that is built on the foundation of the regular Cortex-A78. ARM says it is purpose-built to be a part of a scalable and secure compute solution for next-generation on-the-go devices such as always-on laptops. The Cortex-A78 family includes the regular Cortex-A78 for smartphones, the Cortex-A78AE for complex autonomous applications, and now the Cortex-A78C for laptops. The value draw of the Cortex-A series has been PPA (performance, power, and area). The Cortex-A78C builds on these designs with the latest architecture updates for enhanced compute performance, scalability, and security.
The Cortex-A78C’s major feature is that it enables more homogenous multi-big core computing with support for up to eight big CPU core clusters. The octa-core (up to eight big CPU cores) lead to more scalable multi-threaded performance improvements when compared to the regular Cortex-A78, which supports only four big CPU cores along with four little CPU cores (in the form of the Cortex-A55) in the DynamIQ shared unit (DSU). ARM notes that big.LITTLE is the de facto standard in mobile, and it will remain so in the future. The eight core configurations of the Cortex-A78C will lead to higher multi-threaded performance, which is a plus for demanding workloads. The Cortex-A78C also increases the L3 cache to 8MB to further improve performance, especially for workloads having large data sets.
ARM says these enhanced features are ideal for enabling high performance, heavily threaded workloads, such as physics in gaming and professional productivity applications. The eight core configurations further extend and enhance all-day gaming capabilities when combined with Mali GPUs, as according to ARM, the Mali-G78 provides the graphics performance and battery life improvements for more immersive on-the-go gaming experiences. The increased L3 cache, on the other hand, will empower developers to bring enhanced gaming experiences such as AAA gaming to next-generation devices.
The Cortex-A78C also provides updates for data and device security. ARM points out the Pointer Authentication (PAC) feature, which minimizes the attack surface to ensure data on the device is kept secure. The company notes that sophisticated computer attacks exploit the use of gadgets in Return-Orientated-Programming (ROP) and Jump-Orientated-Programming (JOP). PAC significantly reduces exploits and prevents attackers from taking control of the software control flow, which loads to ROP exploits being reduced by over 60% and JOP exploits by over 40%. According to ARM, reducing these potential exploits is necessary for ensuring that users’ data is kept safe on devices even when installing third-party apps.
In conclusion, ARM says that while the Cortex-A78 is a mobile-focused core for next-generation phones, the Cortex-A78C’s new features provide the performance, scalability, and security needed for the next-generation on-the-go devices
ARM’s announcement of the Cortex-A78C is timely when considering the rumored launch timing of Apple Silicon-powered Macs, which are generally expected to be announced on November 10 at Apple’s online event. The announcement may also come at the right moment for Qualcomm. At its Tech Summit in December, the company may announce a successor to the Snapdragon 8cx SoC for always-on PCs, which was launched nearly two years ago with four ARM Cortex-A76 big cores. Moving to eight Cortex-A78C cores along with a successor to the Adreno 680 would provide quite a big performance boost.