Technology analysts were overwhelmingly positive in their view of ARM's announcement today, with many noting it was good to see the company finally pushing out something new at the higher end of the spectrum.
Unveiling a new high-end 64-bit CPU core, a new GPU core and a new fabrication process at an event in San Francisco Tuesday morning, the company was also bullish on its timeline, predicting products based on the new core sometime in 2016.
"They had the A-53 and A-57 out there for two years and they hadn't talked about anything new except for some low end junk, and people were beginning to scratch their heads and say 'Hey, there must be something new coming from ARM?'," said Nathan Brookwood of Insight64, adding "And now we know what it is."
Brookwood noted that it was the accelerated year-to-18-month product timeline that was most impressive, as it's been typical in the past to expect products to ship on new cores some two-and-a-half or three years after the design has been announced.
Meanwhile, Kevin Krewell, a senior analyst at The Linley Group, said that launching with 10 partners straight out of the gate was also "very impressive."
"Usually partners hold off for a bit," he said, adding that many preferred to take the "wait and see" approach to new processor technology. Though only three of the 10 partners -- Mediatek, RockChip and HiSilicon -- were publicly announced at the launch, ARM said more partner announcements would continue to trickle out over the coming weeks and months.
Analysts said they were impressed ARM was upping the ante with a core capable of comparable performance to today's chips but with dramatic power reductions, or significantly higher performance (up to 2.5 GHz in a phone) with comparable battery life to today's standards.
"We've come to expect that these types of improvements would come periodically, but nevertheless, until someone says they'll do it, and then announces it, there's always a doubt about whether or not they can do it," said Brookwood.
The reason for the long hiatus between high-end cores could be because ARM was taken a little off guard by the early high interest in 64-bit mobile, which wasn't expected to be playing an important role until around 2015. When Apple came out with its own custom-built 64 bit SoC (based off of ARM's IP) at the end of 2013, the industry suddenly found itself playing catch up, and ARM was faced with quicker than expected demand for the technology.
Qualcomm and Samsung, too, are working on their own own proprietary 64-bit SoC designs, though ARM cores are still the building blocks.
"ARM just raised the bar, now it's Qualcomm's turn to raise it," said Brookwood.
Ultimately, of course, ARM collects money whether device makers chose to use a custom Qualcomm chip or a pure ARM design, but ARM picks up more cash if people go with its uncustomized suite, with all the Mali graphics and CoreLink CCI interconnects added in.
If there were any notable weaknesses in today's announcement, it was only that ARM didn't say enough in terms of the speeds and feeds. The firm remained vague on performance numbers and specs, and it also shied away from questions about graphics standards, something Brookwood said might potentially turn out to be an issue if DX12 starts to become wildly important in the next year. ARM wouldn't say whether its new graphics cores were DX11-, DX11.1-, DX11.2- or DX12-compatible.
"They gave a total non-answer to that question," said Brookwood.