ARM Launches Cortex-R8 Processor Core For 5G Wireless Need For Speed

It could be said that ARM chips are what help make the world go ‘round these days, at least in terms of mobile and embedded applications. And ARM is back at it again with with a next generation of its Cortex-R Series real-time processor architecture. The British multinational semiconductor IP company has unveiled the new Cortex-R8, which offers a number of significant improvements over its Cortex-R7 predecessor (released in 2011). The new architecture is targeted at extremely low latency processing, much like the previous gen, but with a number of key enhancements and features for critical real-time processing applications.

For starters, ARM says the the Cortex-R8 provides twice the performance of its predecessor and includes support for next generation LTE-Advanced Pro technology and 5G modems. If you recall, Qualcomm recently announced its LTE-Advanced Pro Snapdragon X16 LTE Modem, which supports wireless speeds of up to 1Gbps.

Chip Diagram Cortex R8 10Dec15

Cortex-R Series processors are mainly employed in embedding computing markets currently, with the bulk of them going into HDD and SSDs designs (ARM claims its architecture is in products from all major HDD and SSD manufacturers), modems and in the connected car movement. ARM is especially seeing growth in this last area, as advanced processors are being employed to handle self-driving routines and process data streaming from numerous cameras and sensors installed in today's cutting-edge vehicles and next generation driving systems as well. It's again these sort of applications that require fine-grained, "fast-twitch" processing, if you will, rather than heavy duty number crunching, that the new Cortex-R8 is targeted to. 

ARM's new Cortex-R8 quad-core configuration offers increased throughput, combined with its low latency cache memory architecture, affording the necessary bandwidth for next generation gigabit wireless speeds as well. “5G will revolutionize mobile communications as it delivers the ability to significantly increase data rates, offering a far better mobile experience,” said James McNiven, general manager, CPU Group, ARM. “The Cortex-R8 is the most powerful real-time CPU available and its unrivaled performance will make it instrumental in the creation of 5G modems. It will form the communications heart of future smartphones, tablets, connected cars and IoT.”

ARM reports that their silicon partners have already begun design work and SoCs based on the Cortex-R8 targeting storage applications should be available sometime in 2016. Modem designs using Cortex-R8 processor architecture are also in the works and will reportedly help enable the roll-out of new LTE-Advanced Pro and 5G standards and technologies. No specific time frames for LTE-Advanced Pro and 5G designs have been disclosed at this point but manufacturers including Huawei are reportedly already working on 5G designs bolstered by the ARM Cortex-R8 architecture. A representative from Huawei, Daniel Diao, deputy general manager, Turing Processor Business Unit specifically claimed that the technology will be "widely deployed in any device where low latency and high performance communication is a critical success factor.”