ARM's Cortex-A78 and Cortex-X1 will power the Androids of 2021

26 May 2020
Cortex-A78 brings a 20% performance boost or 50% higher efficiency, while the X1 is a super powerful core to rival the Apple A-series CPUs.

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  • Nick

and yet another year passes and they still don't address the elephant in the room: the performance and efficiency of the smaller cores remains untouched, and about 5-6 years behind Apple.

  • Anonymous

Anonymous, 26 May 2020Nah sd875 will dominate like it always didYou do know that the Kryo cores used in Snapdragons' are based on ARM's Cortex cores right?

  • Anonymous

If I understand correctly X1 is considered as a custom core and are not open for further customization for now. So next year Qualcomm either have to put X1 as stock or will use semi custom Kryo based on A78 and will en up not much better than A78.

On the other hand we know that Samsung has dropped their full custom M cores and will stick with stock ARM cores. What we didn't know is ARM was prepping radically more powerfull CPU. It's not hard to predict Samsung will get X1 rather than A78. Most probably Qualcomm will do the same.

X1 might be too expensive for Mediatek. Taiwanese company is a lot more cost-conscious.

It's open to debate what kind of configurations we will see. There are many possibilities such as 1 X1 + 3 A78 + 4 A55, or 2 X1 + 2 A78 + 4 A55 or even 2 X1 + 4 A55.

If chipmakers are willing to spend more we can even see 3 or 4 cores of X1 in a single chip with crazy multi-core performances, but most probably there won't be such chips.

Single core performance of the X1 will be close to Apple's Ligtning cores of A13, but much more power and energy efficient. When A13 is using both performance cores (which is Lightning BTW) clock speed is lower due to power consumption and heat generation. At the peak power consumption of a single Lightning core is around 5W, meanwhile Kryo 585 (based on Cortex-A77) of Snapdragon 865 2.4W and Cortex-A78 of Mediatek's Dimensity 1000L is 1.8W.

Most people usually disregards the efficiency.

So it's possible technically but not probable because of cost. Extra cost would not be crazy as most of us will understand. It probably will make such a chip a few dollars more expensive, but chipmakers are usually counts every mm2 and every penny.

I know Huawei are associated with Cortex-A78 already. What makes Huawei special is early adoption of new ARM architectures. ARM customers like Huawei, Qualcomm and Mediatek are getting new architechtures from ARM many months ago maybe even a year before they made it public. With purchasing of implementation of new CPU and GPU designs on actual silicon chips from ARM makes possible for Huawei to releasing nearly simultaneously.

Considering Huawei launches new generation Mate in October with new ARM cores, they can be already in production in TSMC fabs. What we don't know is whether or not new Kirin going to have X1 besides A78. After that Huawei will be out of game due to USA sanctions.

There was some rumors regarding Samsung. Korean company apparently dropped fully custom Mongoose cores and expecting to use A78. And some rumors was suggesting a new chip for upcoming Galaxy Note 20 with it since Exynos 990 was a flop. Taking the cue from Huawei, we may see an early adoption from Samsung too.

Most definitily Samsung will use X1 next year, not this year IMO. Even if Samsung have the intent, since they will make the chip their own fabs rather than TSMC, it will slow down the process. If I remember right, ARM works more closely with TSMC and provides designs for TSMC fabs. Next year Samsung Exynos will be more competitive with Qualcomm Snapdragon thanks to X1 and long awaited AMD GPU if the latter is as good as rumors suggested.

On the GPU side future of ARM seems rather bleak. Maybe chipmakers are willing to spend more, with more cores and lower clock speeds ARM GPUs may or may not stay competitive.

Mediatek, Samsung and Huawei are using lower cores than possible with max clock speeds. That makes them more power hungry and more heat to dissipate in small areas and that leads to thermal throttling.

Early adoption of ARM's new CPU and GPUs can provide Mediatek an edge over Qualcomm since American company have to wait for next year. Almost every phonemaker launches 2 generations of flagships in a year, and if Mediatek waits for next year Qualcomm probably will beat them again, but with an early adoption ala Huawei, they can provide huge single core and multi core CPU performance over Qualcomm, maybe equal or even a bit better performance of GPU at 5nm. I would go with Imagination with next year. Imaginations is what lies behind Apple's GPUs.

Qualcomm can make use of X1 cores at laptop spaces with up to 8 cores too.

  • Anonymous

Anonymous, 26 May 2020Mediatek did not only lag in GPU. Their SoC's while powerf... moreThat was ages ago. Their G and P (after 60) are quite efficient. Not Snapdragon efficient, but still very efficient.

  • Viper

Anonymous, 26 May 2020Mediatek did not only lag in GPU. Their SoC's while powerf... moreEven the new chips of mediatek are not efficient.The dimensity 882 core are clocked at 2.6ghz.Don't u think qualcom coule have done it much earlier but they choose not to because of efficiency.The dimensity chips will face heating issue and high comsumption of battery and thortng when it will age after 1 and half year.That why qualcom chips runs better than mediatek in long run.

  • Anonymous

Viper, 26 May 2020Mediatek has everything its only the gpu where they lack be... moreMediatek did not only lag in GPU.
Their SoC's while powerful , weren't efficient , even with adopting new smaller nodes. So Qualcomm outdid them , in delivering better all-rounder. Remember Helio X10? It's multicore results scared everyone back in the day, but battery suffered. Then Qualcomm made 625 and people just forgot about that.
They also have been a big GPL infringers, making difficult for developers to make ROMs for Mediatek powered phones and even for companies to update it(check Nokia 3 ).

I hope they learned lessons and come back with actually decent SoC and better practices. I wish them very well, cause we definitely need more competition in this field.

  • Anonymous

Anonymous, 26 May 2020Nah sd875 will dominate like it always didAlways did??? 2010 through 2017 exynos dominate

  • Anonymous

Alex 94, 26 May 2020But in reality it will be 10% improvement compared to a77, ... moreI can't imagine where did you get this idea that Cortex-A78 will be %100 more expensive than A77. No, it won't be %100 more expensive. Actually it will be cheaper actually since it's more area efficient. But, that won't make the chips meaningfully cheaper, since any CPU core only is a small part of the whole SoC.

And probably performance oriented phones going to get X1, meanwhile upper mid-range phones are getting A78.

  • Anonymous

IpsDisplay, 26 May 20202021 is the biggest most relevant year for chipsets in year... moreNah sd875 will dominate like it always did

  • Zero

The X1 will shine with 2 cores in it on Gamer Phones and a AMD GPU.
Samsung should think seriously on release a true gamer phone now.

  • Zero

And seems that Apple is about to prepare another major leap this time since their ARM cores are to hit the notebook market too.

  • GnuLinux

Ok I have one question. What happened to the A55 cores? They are really getting dated. Any news about A58 cores or something?

  • Woo_hoo

How many usd 250 phones have A77? A76?
And A78 is announced

  • SteveFOX

Kirin 1020 is set to introduce A78 in October this year.

  • Viper

IpsDisplay, 26 May 20202021 is the biggest most relevant year for chipsets in year... moreMediatek has everything its only the gpu where they lack behind qualcom.Samsung should bring a good cpu with amd graphics to dethrone the snapdragon.Moreover samsung should also introduce a mid range cpu with amd graphics as exynos 9611 is too slow in comparison to 720g 730 and 730g.

  • Viper

The efficient cores must get an update cause the a55 core is being used in every cpu from midrange to high range wither its exynos or snapdragon or mediatek everyone uses it and it is widely used so it should get and update.

2021 is the biggest most relevant year for chipsets in years maybe even a decade mobile and beyond

Mediatek has returned for actual competition

Dimensity 2000 VS Snapdragon 875

-Mediatek is pushing free AV1 codec
-Qualcomm is trying to make us pay for an inferior codec while teaming up with Samsung and Huawei etc

Mediatek is getting integrated 5g in their flagship soc with ease

Qualcomm is struggling to integrate 5g in 875

Political weather is increasing sales for mediatek with Huawei being under pressure

Samsung's AmD collaboration is coming 2021 too

Adreno is ironically under threat from its longtime owner AMD

2021 will be some real cut throat heated competition

2020 chipsets looking outdated already

But in reality it will be 10% improvement compared to a77, but for 100% expensive price. Stick to a77 guys, cause it deliver great performance and is much cheaper. This is not Intel i9 or some And ryzen 7 computer, this is phone, where 99% games can't work on even 90hz refresh rate.

Mobile: Where synthetic benchmark spec w**** numbers matters more than day to day performance optimisation.

Wel the X1 looking really good but i bet its successor will be much more powerfull.
Like when Snapdragon 710 was released for the first time and then its sucessor was at complete different level.