Arm X3 processor gets 25% speed boost, still expected to be slower than a 2021 iPhone

Enlarge / The Arm Cortex X3 brings some modest improvements.


Fresh off a dramatic journey of not being bought by Nvidia, Arm has announced its latest flagship processors. Coming soon to your 2023 Android devices, we have the Cortex-X3 and Arm Cortex-A715 processors.

As usual, these designs will be part of a system-on-chip CPU cluster. Assuming the normal layout, Arm’s proposed design would have a 2023 SoC with one large Cortex-X3 core, three medium-core Cortex-A715 processors, and four small Cortex-A510 cores, which roll back from the current generation.

Arm promises the X3 CPU will improve performance by 25% over the X2, while the Cortex A715 claims a “20% power efficiency gain and 5% performance improvement” over the gen Cortex A710. current. Arm claims the A715 is as fast as 2020’s Cortex X1 processor. The A715 also drops 32-bit support, making it the last part of our theoretical flagship SoC to go 64-bit only. The smaller A510 processor returns, but Arm says it’s “an updated version” with a 5% power cut.

A 25% year-over-year improvement for the larger processor won’t set benchmark graphics on fire. For reference, our tests showed that Apple’s A15 is about 38% faster (in both single-core and multi-core tests) than the best Android phones, and that increasing the single big processor by 25% will mean that phones Android 2023 will still be much slower than a 2021 iPhone. Apple uses Arm architecture but not Arm designs, as Apple seems to be a better designer of Arm chips.

The Arm Cortex X3 brings some modest improvements.
Enlarge / The Arm Cortex X3 brings some modest improvements.


A dependency distance from the actual products

Arm’s announcement is only designs that other companies can use for a real consumer chip, and most of the time that means Qualcomm or Samsung SoC. The distance between Arm and a final product means you have to take the company’s projected performance with a grain of salt, as it still has to be filtered through someone else’s execution of Arm’s design. . Last year, none of Arm’s X2 projections really came true. The company promised a “30% faster” processor, when in reality the X2 chips on the market were slower or equal to the previous year’s X1 chips.

There are already rumors that Qualcomm will not use Arm’s suggested SoC design layout for its 2023 chip, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SoC. two current-generation A710 processors and three A510 processors. The justification because that would be that Qualcomm doesn’t want to completely drop 32-bit support for the Chinese market just yet, and dragging two A710 processors from 2022 into next year would keep the 32-bit train going.

Arm also announced a new GPU design, which isn’t typically used by most vendors. Qualcomm has its own GPU division, Adreno, and Samsung now makes GPUs with AMD. Your best bet to see a flagship Arm GPU in a product is with a rare flagship Mediatek SoC. For what it’s worth, the new ARM GPU has a new branding called “Immortalis GPU”. The Immortalis-G715 is Arm’s first GPU with hardware ray tracing (Samsung and AMD announced a similar feature last year). Arm claims the GPU is 15% faster than last year.

Arm is telling his partners to go crazy with big M2 battle chip designs, but we're not sure anyone is listening.
Enlarge / Arm is telling his partners to go crazy with big M2 battle chip designs, but we’re not sure anyone is listening.


Arm also hopes vendors will augment Arm chips with SoC designs aimed at laptops and desktops. The company proposed a new configuration that would involve eight X3 processors, four A715 processors and zero small cores. Arm tried to come up with the same idea last year when it suggested a chip with eight X2 processors, but we don’t think anyone took up that offer. Qualcomm plans to eventually attack the laptop market in late 2023 with chips designed by its Nuvia acquisition.

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