ARM yesterday laid out its plan to maintain its market dominance beyond the end of this decade, with the unveiling of its Neon multimedia acceleration technology.
The silicon IP designer said the technology, detailed at the Fall Processor Forum this week, would deliver desktop quality multimedia on mobile devices, for example delivering a four times boost on MPEG-4.
At the same time, it aims to massively simplify designing and programming for such devices.
Neon is a 64/128-bit SIMD architecture, and will be able to handle upto 16 operations at the same time. It will be integrated into the ARM core, to provide general purpose acceleration. ARM is aiming its recently detailed OptimoDE technology at application specification uses.
In pushing the technology, ARM is making great play of the software support it is putting in place for the technology. The company said it has developed the architecture in conjunction with a vectorizing compiler technology, which will offer developers the ability to easily develop code in C. In addition, Neon will be compliant with the OpenMAX standards being developed by the Khronos standards group.
Dave Steer, ARM’s director of segment marketing for the US, said that while SIMD architectures had been around for some time, they had not taken root because of the difficulty of developing applications. The environment offered around Neon would remove the need for resorting to hand-coding in assembly, he said.
ARM will be aiming the technology at leading edge applications. ARM says Neon technology can execute an MP3 audio decoder in less than 10 CPU MHz, and run the GSM AMR speech codec in 13 CPU MHz.
Steer said this did not automatically equate to simply adding more horsepower. Rather, he said, device makers would have the opportunity to add more functionality, such as full motion video, or make more efficient devices, for example, extending battery life.
The architecture will be aimed at ARM’s traditional fiefdom of mobile devices, as well as more general consumer devices, such as set-top boxes and gaming devices.
Steer said that given the usual time three year lag between OEMs licensing ARM’s technology and products appearing on the market, it would be the back end of the decade before users would get their hands on Neon-powered devices.