MWC - Symmetric multiprocessing arrives in mobiles

ST-Ericsson and ARM have jointly developed a mobile phone chip that uses symmetric multiprocessing

The ‘platform’ chip uses ARM’s Cortex-A9 multicore processor, and runs the Symbian OS.

Support for SMP means that different processes in an application or set of applications can be run on different processors, based on performance and power requirements. It also means that applications that demand a lot of processing power can be broken down into multiple execution thread that are run on multiple processors.

“Having multiple processing cores improves real-time performance and OS reactivity, creating much more responsive devices and a better user experience,” said Monica De Virgiliis, vice president wireless multimedia, ST-Ericsson.

Lee Williams, executive director, Symbian Foundation, said: “The result of ST-Ericsson and ARM’s collaboration is increased performance for media-rich content and applications, such as fast web browsing, imaging, games and location based services, without compromising battery life.”

The chip has been designed so that the Symbian operating systems can exploit dynamic voltage and frequency scaling to match the processing power to the computational load, as well as adaptive voltage scaling to deal with the impact of statistical variations in advanced processes.

* - ARM used MWC to announce that 10 billion of its processor designs have now shipped in mobile phones. Overall, the company’s processor designs have been used 14 billion times to date – or two each for every person on the planet.

The average mobile phone shipped in 2008 had approximately two ARM processors on board. Some smartphones have four or five, working as application processors, and in the modem, WLAN, GPS, SIM, camera module and Bluetooth ICs.

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