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ARM Cortex A72 continues to set new records, Intel Broxton under threat

With every passing day almost, the next-generation ARM Cortex A72 processor core continues to surprise with its robust performance in benchmarking charts.

The ARM Cortex A72 is the new heavy-hitter processor technology from UK’s ARM Holdings that will feature in nearly all high-end, and some mid-range, processors that are going to be launched starting from June. It will replace the current Cortex A57.

As the name indicates, the A72 is turning out to be an absolute beast according to the benchmarking numbers.

As of now, only one chip with A72 cores, the MediaTek MT8173, has been released into the wild. Snapdragon 618 and 620, which will be found inside phones released over the next 2 months, will also come with Cortex A72 cores. Also built on a 28 nm process, the Snapdragon 620 will combine four Cortex A72 cores with four Cortex A53, while the Snapdragon 618 will come with two Cortex A72 cores.

arm-cortex-a72-benchmark-geekbench-mt8173

While early results of the Mediatek chip on Geekbench had thrown up numbers of around 1400 points (which in itself was a record for mobile and tablet processors), recent tests have raised that number to 1700. The Cortex A57 can only score around 1,250.

At 1700 points using a single core, the chip is about 70% more powerful than Intel’s most powerful offering in tablet or mobile space in the latest generation — the Airmont core inside the Atom Z8700 2.4 GHz. The Atom scores around 1,020 points.

Another factor to keep in mind is that the Atom Z8700 is built on 14 nm process, while the MT8173 is built on the 28 nm processor. When Cortex A72 starts getting slapped on to 14/16 nm chips by the middle of this year, the difference in performance will be 2 times compared to the Airmont cores.

This level of performance difference is extremely high to be covered in a single generation. Intel’s next core update – the Goldmont – was originally promised for mid-2015. If Broxton (the chip with Goldmont inside) was indeed to debut over the next couple of months, and came with a 70% or so performance boost over Airmont, Intel would have put up a decent fight with ARM’s Cortex A72-based processors.

However, the Goldmont/Broxton project has been hit by delays and is now expected to yield results only by the second half of next year — more than a year after phones and tablets with A72 cores hit the market.

By then, ARM would have cleaned out the market, and Intel would be largely in the same condition as it is now — of throwing dollars to get OEMs to build phones and tablets around its chips.

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