ARM new Processors Architecture for ADAS

On Sep 26th, ARM announced their new Cortex-A76AE core for automotive application, especially autonomous driving car. ARM doesn’t produce process directly. They sell IP cores with licensees to MCU, CPU and SoC manufactories. They also issue licensees to fabless companies who wish to integrate an ARM core into their designs. ARM core users include Apple, Qualcomm, Samsung Electronics, ST Microelectronics and etc.

ARM domain the smartphone processor market, almost squeeze Intel out of mobile solution market. ARM architecture mobile processor has become synonymous with smartphone processor. ARM is also actively exploring the new market. Infotainment is a most likely new market for ARM-based product in auto market. Infotainment attributes nearly 25% semiconductor components in cars.[1] Todays’ cars and autonomous cars in the future are running “smartphones”. They need more stable and powerful processors.

Safety is an entrance requirement for automotive-class application. Safety is always one of the most important aspects for carmakers. Cortex-A76AE has a new feature called Split-Lock. This feature allows multiple processor cores to be locked together for redundancy in lock mode, or earn higher processing power in split mode. Split-Lock feature also gives the flexibility that wasn’t possible in traditional lock step processors. [2]

Automotive computing in 2020 requires more computing power since the new functions such as autonomous driving. Nowadays, a high-end smartphone is about 30,000-50,000 DMIPS.[3] However, a Level 3 autonomy function requires nearly 350,000 DMIPS, which is about 7 times performance of a high-end smartphone today. Cortex-A76AE is designed for Autonomous Driving, which is largely based on Cortex-A76. It improves the performance by enhancing memory system, increasing integer and vector execution throughput and decoupled branch prediction and instruction fetch. [4]

ARM believe Cortex-A76AE has a great boost in performance compared with its predecessor, the Cortex-A75. It can meet the autonomous driving requirement of more than 250,000 DMIPS at less than 15 W. There is still a 40% gap with 350,000 DMIPS. It could be a challenge in the next two years.

[1] Winning Share in automotive semiconductors
[2] Evolving safety systems: Comparing Lock-Step, redundant execution and Split-Lock technologies
[3] Arm: Preparing for the future
[4] Arm Cortex-A76AE: A new age of high-performance processing with advanced safety

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