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Thursday, April 18, 2013
ARM Introduces New License Model For Big.Little Technology

ARM has announced a new licensing model to enable broader access to big.LITTLE processing technology for ARM partners.

ARM's Big.Little chip design technology mixes low-power and power-hungry cores for more efficient energy use of chips in smartphones, tablets, servers and other equipment.

Under the terms of a single use design license (SUDL), ARM partners can license the individual components required to enable the development of a big.LITTLE system, including the ARM Cortex-A15 and Cortex-A7 processors; the CoreLink Cache Coherent Interconnect (CCI-400); the Generic Interrupt Controller (GIC-400) and the AMBA Domain Bridge (ADB-400), all as a single package.

ARM partners licensing the package can also license the Mali-T600 GPU to provide graphics performance to the platform, or ARM POP Technology for core-hardening acceleration to aid efficient implementation of their design.

The Cortex-A15 processor is the highest performance processor available from ARM. The Cortex-A7 processor is ARM?s most energy-efficient applications processor. These two processors are combined together in the big.LITTLE technology to give users optimal performance for all kinds of simultaneous applications and tasks. The CCI-400 is a cache-coherent interconnect for big.LITTLE systems. It has been designed and tested with other CoreLink components, such as the Network Interrupt Controller (NIC-400) and the Dynamic Memory Controller (DMC-400), which share the same end-to-end Quality of Service protocol.

Seventeen companies have so far licensed Big.Little including Samsung, Renesas, CSR, Fujitsu and MediaTek, ARM said in a statement Wednesday.

Samsung is using the Big.Little design in its Exynos 5 Octa chip, which combines four ARM Cortex-A15 cores with four low-power ARM Cortex-A7 processors.

ARM's biggest licensees, Nvidia and Texas Instruments, are coming up with their own power-efficient chip designs. Nvidia's "4+1" approach on its Tegra 3 and Tegra 4i chips has four cores handling high-power tasks and one low-power core handling phone calls and SMS delivery.

The big.LITTLE components are available under this new licensing model from today.

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