The automobile needs power, but it also needs (a lot) of safety. This is why ARM is today launching the basic plans for a new generation of chips which take the suffix “AE” for Automotive Enhanced.
Three essential “bricks” are launched: the Cortex-A78AE CPU which belongs to the “high performance” range, a Mali-G78AE GPU for 3D calculations and display, as well as a Mali-C71AE image processor in charge. to control cameras and other calculations related to vision.
ARM, which sells blueprints for its chips to Apple, Qualcomm and others, has relied on the generation of high-end chips arriving in our smartphones by the end of the year, the Cortex-A78 and Mali-G78 which we told you about last May. But unlike these chips designed for the general public where performance is everything, or almost, this “AE” range is designed for critical operations. And who says criticality, says: “no errors”.
This is why the operating mode of the different computing cores has been designed to verify information from each other. Behavior that already exists in some professional chips in the form of a “locked mode”. A principle of error checking which implies a serious loss of performance since 50% of the cores are dedicated to checking the calculations of other cores.
Another mode called “split mode” also offers error correction, but again with too much performance loss for future applications.
The “AE” generation incorporates a new so-called hybrid operating mode which combines the degree of security of “lock mode”, but with a level of performance superior to that of “split mode” – the best of all possible worlds on paper.
Thanks to a 50% greater bandwidth, which allows it to offer a performance gain of 30% compared to the previous generation of automotive chips. All this while guaranteeing the high level of safety required by automotive… and industrial applications.
Because the mix between power and safety also goes well with robotics, for example. An area in which, in addition to CPUs and GPUs, the Mali-C71AE vision processor will have a big role to play: with a processing capacity of 1.2 billion pixels per second, the ARM chip can also drive a car than a robot.
As usual for ARM, the announcement of its new generation of plans is made well in advance of that of the real chips, which will be unveiled by its various customers. Processors all more or less personalized which should arrive, at best, in the course of the year 2021.