big.LITTLE Technology: The Future of Mobile

Making very high performance available in a mobile envelope without sacrificing energy efficiency.

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With the evolution from the first mobile phones through smartphones to today’s superphones and tablets, the demand for compute performance in mobile devices has grown at an incredible rate. Today’s devices need to service smarter and more complex interactions, such as voice and gesture control, combined with seamless and reliable content delivery. Gaming and user interfaces have also grown in complexity, with mobile devices now increasingly being used as gaming platforms.

High performance requires fast CPUs which in turn can be difficult to fit in a mobile power or thermal budget. At the same time battery technology has not evolved at the same rate as CPU technology. Therefore today we are in a situation where smartphones require higher performance, but the same power consumption.

The development and design of next generation mobile processors is necessarily guided by the following factors:

  1. At the high performance end: high compute capability but within the thermal bounds
  2. At the low performance end: very low power consumption

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