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Inquiry on Low Power, Single Core (active) Processors

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Last response: in CPUs
February 20, 2013 2:31:04 PM

Hi all,

NOTE*: Not sure if this belongs in CPUs or Mobile section of the forums -- sorry!

I've been a long time follower/reader of tomshardware and now I'm coming to you all in the hopes that you may have some insight and/or references on a particularly interesting question.

My friend works in the aerospace industry and mentioned how they are using the Motorola PPC G4 series 74XX microprocessors (single core) in their helicopter computers. These dissipate ~15W during typical operation.

I'd like to research/discuss alternative processor architectures that can provide performance similar to a PowerPC G4, but dissipate significantly less power. My first thought is to look into the mobile microprocessor sector as they are constantly looking for ways to improve battery life on portable electronics.

Long story short, a candidate processor (family) requires:
--- 800MHz - 1GHz clock freq
--- MMU (Memory Management Unit)
--- Floating Point (do any procs not have this?)
--- <15W power consumption

With all the modern day multi-core processors, I am struggling to find data/specs on single core performance for these chips.

1. Do any processor families stick out in your mind that I should look into? (ARM, Intel Atom, etc.)
2. Does anyone have an idea of where I may find single core performance specs?
3. I'm sure I'll have some more questions that I can edit in...

Thanks for being patient with the long post and I look forward to the discussion :D 


More about : inquiry low power single core active processors

Best solution

a c 639 à CPUs
February 20, 2013 2:57:18 PM

Currently, the lowest power consuming processor is the Intel Core i3-3229Y which consumes at most 13w. But it can consume as little as 7w assuming the correct "power profile" is used. However, it is a dual core CPU and it also has Hyper Theading.

The Motorola PPC G4 series 74XX is a pretty old design ranging from 1999 - 2005 (at least according to Wikipedia). Even though the i3-3229Y is clocked at only 1.4GHz, CPU architecture has improved vastly since 2005 especially in the Intel Camp.

There's a whole slew of Atom processors and they their power consumption ranges between 2w up to 10w depending on the model. How powerful are they compared to mobile CPUs? I would say pretty slow, but they should be at least a little more power than the old Motorolas. There are a couple of tablets that uses an Atom CPU (which model, I don't know), but comparison reviews vs an ARM processor more or less states it has average performance. Whether that's the 2w version or the 10w version (really doubtful), I just don't know.

ARM Processors are basically used in cellphones and tablets. How powerful are they really? Not sure, never bothered to really consider the performance. But from my statement above, ARM processors performance at least as well as Atom CPUs.
February 26, 2013 11:12:35 PM

I am curious as to what the power consumption and performance of the i3-3229Y would be with all but one core disabled. I suppose the only way I could find information on that would be to test it myself?

The mobile (smartphone / tablet) processors are the ones I am honing in on. Considering the replacement processor simply has to match the performance of the PPC G4 74XX series, I think it makes sense to look into the Atom and ARM processors.

Is there a particular ARM platform known for having low power draw relative to the others? (snapdragon, tegra 3/4, cortex a9, etc.).

I feel like it's mostly between Atom and ARM, and then from there finding the best families within those groups.

Any thoughts?
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a c 639 à CPUs
February 27, 2013 12:57:35 PM

I believe the Cortex A9 is currently the most powerful ARM processor. However, my knowledge of ARM is very limited. As for power consumption, that is unknown to me. I think typical ARM processors consume between 3w - 6w.

The Tegra 3 may be one of the most power efficient ARM processors. It is a quad core ARM, but there is also a 5th core designed to run at low speeds to save power when the ARM processor is idling. However, when active it probably consumes 5w or 6w assuming the above power consumption range is correct.

March 5, 2013 11:16:13 PM

Best answer selected by neaton14.