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Arm Maps Out Attack on Intel Core i5

(Image credit: Arm)

In an announcement today, Arm unveiled its roadmap of CPUs until 2020. Arm's new “laptop-class” chips aim to beat Intel’s Core i5-U CPUs.

Laptop-Class Performance

Arm and Arm chip makers such as Qualcomm have been taking aim at the laptop market for the past few years. This is why recently we’ve been seeing not just Chromebooks with Arm chips, but also Windows 10-based laptops.

Starting this year and until 2020, we’re going to see three laptop-class performance CPU cores from Arm . The first, which Arm already announced previously and should come out this year on a 7nm process, is Cortex-A76. The Cortex-A76 promises a 35% performance uplift compared to the previous generation, the Cortex-A75, along with four times the machine learning inference performance.

For 2019, Arm has planned the “Deimos” core, while in 2020 we should see the “Hercules” core on both 7nm and 5nm processes. All three chips utilize the newer DynamiQ technology that will replace big.LITTLE.

Beating Intel’s Core i5

Arm is not shy about stating its ultimate goal with these upcoming chips, and that’s to beat the Intel Core i5 U-line, while using significantly less power too. According to Arm's own tests, Cortex-A76 is already expected to be on par with Intel’s Core i5-7300U CPU, using less than 5W of power, compared to 15W for the 7300U.

(Image credit: ARM)

Arm also says that these chips’ performance and efficiency have been progressing at a faster rate than the industry average. At Cortex-A76’s launch, Arm claimed an average of 20% performance gains year over year for the past few years. Now the firm is also claiming that the chips coming after Cortex-A76 will see an approximately 15% performance gain year over year.

(Image credit: ARM)

Arm also showed how its 2020 Hercules CPU should have 2.5 times the compute performance of the 2016 Cortex A73. Much of that performance gain should be from the transition from the 16nm process to the 5nm process, but Arm still promises much larger compute performance improvements compared to the rest of the industry.

Targeting the Laptop Market

Although Arm's chips may have potential to reach parity with Intel’s mainstream laptop CPUs, that’s not the only hurdle Arm will face in the laptop market. Arm and its partner chip makers will still have to convince consumers that Arm -powered Windows 10 or Chromebook laptops will be just as good software-wise as the Intel or AMD counterparts.

Arm believes that always-on laptops with 5G connectivity will be one of the things that will set the Arm -based laptops apart from the competition. The company seems to believe that both because Arm -based laptops will have significantly better battery life that can last for days and because Qualcomm will likely be the leading provider of 5G modems, giving Arm chip makers an edge in the always-on laptop market.

Lucian Armasu
Lucian Armasu is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He covers software news and the issues surrounding privacy and security.