Monday, December 31, 2012

What is big.LITTLE Processing?

The word "big.LITTLE" sounds familiar if you haven't slept under a rock for few weeks back. So many questions popping up in mind, what does it mean? how it works? why it's so important?..etc
Rumors brought this word back in to the stage saying Samsung's next years flagship, which is Galaxy S iv to feature an Octa Core processor with big.LITTLE technology. Lets find out what's this all about.

big.LITTLE is a processor architecture found by ARM Holdings in October 2011. Since they have launched the Cortex-A7 processor ,which is architectural wise compatible with the Cortex-A15 processor, big.LITTLE processing revealed to the world.
"The Right Processor for the Right Job" was the title ARM used to describe the meaning of big.LITTLE architecture. The "big" stands for the powerful high performance Cortex-A15 cores and "LITTLE" for the entry level power efficient Cortex-A7 cores. Due to their architectural similarities, these cores can seamlessly switch between one and another according to the workload. The diagram below can explain the process.

Cortex-A7 cores manages always on,always connected workloads like, calling,text messaging, music playing and social media while, Cortex-A15 cores handle the complex heavy workloads like 3D Gaming, graphical user interfaces,HD/FHD video recording and playback and mapping.
ARM developers saying that, this can save up to 70% of battery backup which is an amazing fact since not having a good battery life is one of  the main issues smartphones including flagship devices facing.
ARM's Mali GPU supporting the new big.LITTLE processors and Mali T-67x (most probably Mali T-678) series GPU's will feature along with these processors. 

Many Soc (System on chip) developing companies like Samsung, ST-Ericsson, LG, Broadcom has already licensed the big.LITTLE architecture in order to bring it to the market in 2013. Extreme power Saving is the ground breaking feature of ARM's new architecture. Even though the diagram below is scaleless,we can get an idea how effective the Cortex-A7 cores manages power.

Advantages of big.LITTLE Processing
  • Saves battery backup up to 70%
  • Transparent to applications and middleware
  • Compatible with current OS mechanisms
  • Tuning of power management policies
  • common interrupt control for simplified software

"Octa Core" for a smartphone feels far beyond our reach, but now it's not that much hard to reach thanks to ARM Holdings. We saw NVIDIA unveiled 4+1 architecture for Tegra 3 processors. They were able to integrate a companion core to manage power. But it couldn't able to become the most power efficient processor. big.LITTLE architecture is way different and proves much better energy saving.
check out the demonstration video by ARM

For more details view the pdf files by ARM

big.LITTLE Processing PDF

 Advances in big.LITTLE Technology PDF

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