If you've been following the chip news, you've probably come across the term CPU-specific cores, especially in relation to Apple chips. But how exactly are these custom or custom kernels designed and manufactured, and how do they differ from the Cortex kernels offered by Arm? Here's a comprehensive overview.
Why is Arm so important for smartphones?
All Android phones and all iPhones use processors based on the Arm architecture. Most computers now use the x86-64-based processor, which is the 64-bit version of the architecture used in 1980s computers such as 80386 and 80486. AMD designed and introduced the first 64-bit version of this architecture in 2003. But most phones use the Armv8 version of Arm's architecture, and of course a number of new chipsets have switched to a new version called Armv9.
Arm architecture is also referred to as RISC or" simplified instruction set ". In this architecture, the instructions can be speeded up by simplifying the instructions, but compared to CISC (complex instruction set) processors, more than one instruction must be executed to achieve the same result. Simply put, the RISC architecture, although less powerful than the CISC processors used in computers, consumes much less energy and is therefore ideal for smartphones.
Model Arm's business is completely different from companies like Intel and AMD. The company's specialists are constantly designing new processors and chips, and then passing these designs on to other companies so that they can deliver the chips to users. In exchange for the sale of each of these chips, a sum will be received by Arm Company, and the companies in question must also receive Arm approval after designing their chips. But Intel designs and manufactures its own chips. Although AMD is fully designing its chips, it is outsourcing it to other companies.
Among Arm customers we can mention companies such as Qualcomm, Apple, Samsung, MediaTek and Google. These companies can obtain key licenses or architectural licenses from Arm. By receiving key licenses, these companies will be able to take advantage of the complete processor design for their chips. Simply put, such a license does not allow the companies to change the design of the processors provided.
But by obtaining an architectural license, companies can change the design of the processors according to their needs, and only the final design should be Arm's set of instructions is compatible. Companies such as Qualcomm, Apple, Samsung and Nvidia, for example, receive such licenses. That's why these companies usually use dedicated or custom cores for their chips, or have done so in the past. But since changing the design of processor cores is a very complex task, many companies prefer to use the same designs provided by Arm.
Advantages and disadvantages of processor-specific cores
Designing dedicated processing cores is technically a very complex task and It requires a very large budget. That's why companies only do this when they can't get the performance they want from Cortex-A or Cortex-X cores. Sometimes this approach works, and sometimes it fails.
The cores in new processors have billions of transistors, and if a company has highly skilled specialists and a sufficient budget, it might be able to process better cores than Develop competitors. However, these cores may offer similar performance to competitors or even worse performance. Finally, each of these proprietary cores is directly compared to the designs provided by Arm.
Arm architecture for a large number of its computers, in addition to the iPhone and iPad and other gadgets. But Apple has been using proprietary processing cores for years and lags far behind its competitors.
However, if the performance of these proprietary cores falls short of expectations, it could be a nightmare for public relations teams Marketing will become. Until a few years ago, for example, Samsung used custom cores for its chips, which eventually accepted failure and abandoned this approach.
Which companies use proprietary cores for the processor?
As we said, this requires a huge budget, and of course only very large companies can do it. Here are some companies that can design custom cores for their processors. Qualcomm Qualcomm Uses cores provided by Arm and also uses dedicated cores. Years ago, Snapdragon 800, 801 and 805 chips came with Krait-based cores. Qualcomm has been using Kyro proprietary cores for some time in addition to the cores provided by Arm, but since Snapdragon 835 it has switched to using Arm processing cores.
It should be noted that Qualcomm, Samsung, Google and MediaTek are the only companies that can use Arm's Cortex-X series cores that offer very high power. In 2021, Qualcomm acquired Nuvia, a chip-based startup for $ 1.4 billion, founded by a number of former Apple engineers. These people are said to have played an important role in the design of Apple processors. Qualcomm reportedly wants to use the startup's expertise to begin designing proprietary processing cores, but the chips will first be used for laptops and eventually for phones.
Apple is one of the most important and Arm's largest customers. Apple initially uses cores provided by Arm for the iPhone. But in 2008 it acquired a processor design company, and after that acquisition, the process of designing dedicated processing cores began. Apple then spent several years designing proprietary cores, eventually succeeding in leveraging the cores designed by its team.
Apple's first proprietary architecture was called Swift, followed by Cyclone. It was a 64-bit design, and Apple was able to use this architecture to surprise the smartphone industry. The A7 chip, which was used in the iPhone 5s and a number of iPads in 2013, is based on a 64-bit architecture, and for comparison, the first 64-bit processors were introduced in early 2015 for Android phones. This means that Apple entered the competition for 64-bit chips 18 months earlier.
Apple Every year, it unveils a chip based on new architecture and features for the iPhone and iPad. After the company's great success in this field, Apple executives decided to use proprietary chips for their computers, which are referred to as Apple Silicon. Last year, the first proprietary chip for Macs was introduced, the Apple M1, which is based on the design of the A14 chipset used for the iPhone 12. Some time ago, the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips were introduced, which provide much more power to the systems in question.
Samsung and Nvidia
Like Qualcomm, Samsung Has also experienced the use of dedicated processing cores. Until 2016, all Exynos processors used Arm's Cortex-A cores. But in 2016, Samsung unveiled the Exynos 8890 chipset, which was launched with its proprietary cores called Mongoose. Samsung continued to use proprietary cores for four generations of its chips, but that trend came to an end with the launch of the Exynos 9825. However, due to the poor performance of these cores, Samsung abandoned these proprietary cores and turned to the designs provided by Arm.
Nvidia is another important Arm customer that most users recognize as a graphics card maker. But the company operates in various fields, such as the development of machine learning systems, the production of auto parts, and data center chips. In addition to using Arm processing cores, the company also uses proprietary cores for some of its chips. It should be noted that in 2020, Nvidia announced that it would acquire Arm for $ 40 billion. But the deal has not yet been finalized due to concerns, and the future of the divestiture is in limbo.
Are Dedicated cores Better?
The final important question is whether proprietary cores are really better than Arm's processing cores? In this context, we must first define the meaning of "being better." In addition to criteria such as performance and energy consumption, the cost of construction, variety and purpose of construction should also be mentioned. Currently, around the world, about 4 and maybe 5 groups of engineers have the ability to design proprietary chips. One of these teams is based at arm, and we should also mention Apple, Qualcomm and Nvidia.
Apple takes the lead in delivering the best performance. The company made a lot of noise in 2013 with the introduction of the A7 chip, and since then it has increased its distance from competitors day by day. Of course, with the acquisition of Nuvia, Qualcomm wants to change the situation, and we have to see if it succeeds in this.
Thanks to this strategy, Apple earns a lot of money every year. For comparison, the revenue from the sale of the iPhone is more than the total revenue of Google. Apple's total revenue is about twice that of Google, and if we add up the combined revenue of Google, Intel and Microsoft, it still does not reach Apple's revenue.
One of the most important features of Apple gadgets is the use of proprietary chips, and by doing so, it has succeeded in greatly increasing the pressure on competitors. Manufacturers of Android phones should ask themselves whether building custom processors is worth the investment. Apple, on the other hand, has put the same pressure on Intel and AMD by using proprietary chips for its computers. Can these two companies attract the attention of users interested in Macs with proprietary chips by offering better chips?
But in the end, this competition is in the users' interest because we will see innovation and attractive products. What do you think about proprietary processing cores? Do you pay attention to this issue to buy this phone? Share your thoughts with us and others in the comments section.
- Everything you need to know about Mobile Chipset (SoC)
Source: Android Authority <// a>