LONDON ARM Holdings plc (Cambridge, England) plans to launch three additions to its Cortex family of processor cores during 2010. The cores, codenamed Eagle, Heron and Merlin, all have lead licensing customers and deliveries of intellectual property will start either in 2010 or early in 2011 depending on the core, said Warren East, chief executive officer of ARM.
Eagle sits within the high-performance Cortex A-class, Heron sits within the embedded and real-time Cortex R-class and Merlin is a novel core for ARM's Cortex-M grouping.
Having tipped the licensing progress on the three cores to an audience of financial analysts gathered to discuss ARM's 2009 financial results, East declined to say much more about the cores.
"Lead licensing is in place on all of them. We are within about 18 months of finishing the designs," said East while adding that each is on a slightly different timeline. He said that in general they would provide different rather than better performance and attributes to the established Cortex processor cores. "In all three cases they will sit alongside the existing products for some time to come," East said. Nonetheless, at launch Eagle will supersede the Cortex-A9 as ARM's most powerful processor core. "Eagle takes us onto yet another level in terms of performance," he told the analysts. "Eagle is aimed at the very high-end."
Cortex-A9 has been announced as a design-in within the Tegra-2 processor from Nvidia and a four-core implementation of the Cortex-A9 has been claimed by Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (Santa Clara, Calif.).
According to a slide presented by East to the analysts Eagle is aimed at smartphone, mobile computing, digital television and communications infrastructure applications. More broadly described as application processors ARM has categorized this as a 3 billion unit per year market.
Heron is aimed at automotive engine management, basebands and hard disk drive control; an embedded market of 10 billion units per year. And the Merlin core is aimed at motor control, industrial control and embedded audio processing. ARM measures the microcontroller market as 16 billion units per year, a market in which it has less than 5 percent.
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