Fresh off a dramatic journey of not being bought by Nvidia, Arm announced its latest flagship CPUs. Coming soon for your 2023 Android devices, we have the Cortex-X3 and Arm Cortex-A715 CPUs.
As usual, these designs will be part of a system-on-chip CPU cluster. Assuming the normal layout, Arm’s proposed design would have a 2023 SoC with one large Cortex-X3 core, three medium Cortex-A715 CPUs and four small Cortex-A510 cores, returning from the current generation.
Arm promises that the X3 CPU will deliver a 25 percent performance improvement over the X2, while the Cortex A715 claims a “20 percent energy efficiency gain and 5 percent performance improvement” compared to the current-generation Cortex A710. Arm claims the A715 is just as fast as the 2020 Cortex X1 CPU. The A715 also drops 32-bit support, making it the last part of our theoretical flagship SoC to go 64-bit only. The smaller A510 CPU returns, but Arm says it’s “an updated version” with 5 percent power savings.
A 25 percent year-over-year improvement for just the largest CPU isn’t going to set any benchmark on fire. For reference, our tests showed that Apple’s A15 is about 38 percent faster (in single- and multi-core tests) than the best Android phones, and only if the single large CPU is increased by 25 percent will Android phones in 2023 will still be much slower than a 2021 iPhone. Apple uses the Arm architecture, but not Arm’s designs, because Apple seems to be a better Arm chip designer.
An arm’s length away from actual products
Arm’s announcement is only from to design that other companies can use for a real consumer chip, and usually that means Qualcomm or Samsung SoC. The distance between Arm and a finished product means you have to take the company’s projected performance claims with a grain of salt, as it still needs to be filtered through someone else’s execution of Arm’s design. Last year, none of Arm’s X2 projections actually came out. The company promised a “30 percent faster” CPU, when in reality the X2-based chips on the market were slower or equal to the previous year’s X1 chips.
There are already rumors that Qualcomm will not use the SoC design layout proposed by Arm for its 2023 chip, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SoC. Rumor has it that Qualcomm’s layout would be one Cortex X3, two Cortex A720s, two current-generation A710 CPUs, and three A510 CPUs. The justification because this would be that Qualcomm isn’t ready to drop 32-bit support entirely for the Chinese market just yet, and dragging two A710 CPUs from 2022 into next year would keep the 32-bit train going.
Arm also announced a new GPU design, which is not typically used by most vendors. Qualcomm has its own GPU division, Adreno, and Samsung now makes GPUs with AMD. Your best bet to see a flagship Arm GPU in a product is with a rare flagship Mediatek SoC. For what it’s worth, the new ARM GPU has a new branding called the ‘Immortalis GPU’. The Immortalis-G715 is the first Arm-designed GPU with hardware ray tracing (Samsung and AMD announced a similar feature last year). Arm claims the GPU is 15 percent faster than last year.
Arm also hopes that vendors will scale up Arm chips with SoC designs intended for laptops and desktops. The company presented a new configuration with eight X3 CPUs, four A715 CPUs and zero small cores. Arm tried to launch the same idea last year when it proposed a chip with eight X2 CPUs, but we don’t think anyone took up that offer. Qualcomm plans to eventually attack the laptop market in late 2023 with chips designed through its acquisition of Nuvia.
List image by Arm