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Big-little Marine Vessel multi-engine symbiosis paradigm finds its way into Big.LITTLE mobile architecture innovation

by Russel 2011-10-25 12:31

Big.LITTLE ARM system on chip CPUIt is a common practice for marine vessels to employ a powerful march engines for the high speed open ocean going voyage, and smaller engines to more easily and efficiently maneuver in the tidy marine bay or alongside a crowded waters close to the dock. Different tasks are being accomplished using the best navigational methods and most suitable engine for the particular task, increasing safety and optimizing usage of fuel. The marine yacht big-and-small engine combination paradigm is finding its way into the microprocessor design architectures. The so called "Big.LITTLE" system on chip architecture introduced by Arm helps create the new mobile computational platform improving the power-use of diversity of  microprocessors combined in a new 3D-structure for unified chips which let mobile devices become more productive consuming less power from the mobile device battery.  

Newest handheld personal communicators with larger touchscreens and advanced three dimensional rich graphics rendering, GPS navigation and GPS topographic maps real time generation capabilities, demand for much more powerful processor and, therefore, for a higher capacity battery. One of today's portable assistant enabling technology's most significant challenges is how to create a highly efficient processing system on a single chip that meets the conflicting consumer demand for devices with both higher-performance and extended battery life. 

The answer comes from Arm's innovation called "Big.LITTLE" processing, which uses the Cortex-A7 and Cortex-A15 processor computing capabilities together and interchangeably. The Arm's balanced architecture achieves higher performance by pairing the best of the high-performance Cortex-A15 MPCore and ultra-efficient Cortex-A7 processors. Big.LITTLE processing allows new personal communicator devices to seamlessly select the right processor for the right task, based on current performance requirements. Importantly, this dynamic selection is transparent to the application software or middleware running on the symbiotic processor platform. The Big.LITTLE processing model uses efficient multi-processor power management software as a middleware integrated into the system on chip firmware and presenting different processors as an identical resource to the higher level mobile device software applications, while seamlessly selecting the right processor for the right task on the background.

The high-performance tasks, may include web browsing, GPS navigation, intense video gaming and movie streaming, and rendering of three dimensional GPS topographic maps. The instantly connected but less demanding background tasks and processes, such as voice calls, audio playback, text messaging, social networking and email services consume less CPU cycles but require uninterrupted connectivity for real-time update and synchronization of the online and local data, keeping it the most current and enabling the event-driven notification and garbage collection mechanisms. As a result, the mobile phone has become an indispensable all-purpose smart handheld assistant device for millions of mobile users. The new and more capable mobile form factors, such as tablets, are redefining computing platforms in response to increasing consumer demand. This is creating the need to run server scale applications on tablet devices and render much more intense graphical output on large touchscreens, to open new ways for consumers to interact with rich, three dimensional real time content. In fact it brings desktop and server capabilities to the world of mobile devices. 

Answering new challenges of the mobile computing market Arm has developed an integrated double-processor system in which the small and efficient A7 processor dynamically changes hats with powerful Cortex A15 processor capable of providing enough CPU power enough to run a scalable  server solution to run full blown Linux or Windows operating systems. The “Big.LITTLE” processor combination seamlessly switches between the powerful chip for complex tasks and the tiny, efficient chip for simpler ones. As a result the new generation of smartphone and tablet devices, delivering  the suite of CPU-intense three dimensional graphical and high precision GPS navigational services in real time, and utilizing the “Big.LITTLE” approach, is estimated to consume much less power and would have 70 per cent longer battery life in comparison to the traditional single processor mobile architecture.

Big.LITTLE at full power

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