What is ARMv9?

Two months ago, ARM Holdings announced that the latest instruction set architecture (ISA) for smartphones was ready. It’s name is ARMv9. What is ARMv9? What is an instruction set architecture and why is it important?

Who is ARM?

ARM Holdings are the brains behind nearly all the mobile SoCs seen today on smartphones. They design CPU cores which they then sell to the companies that make SoCs. CPU cores are a very important component used in making SoCs.

Over the years, ARM has constantly been updating their designs. These updated designs have helped SoC manufacturers produce better, faster, smarter and more powerful CPU cores for smartphones. In fact, ARM’s designs have gotten so good that they can now be used on laptops (Snapdragon 8cX and Apple M1).


Read: what is an SoC?


What is an instruction set?

The designs used in building CPU cores are known as Instruction Set Architecture (ISA). The better the design, the faster the CPU runs and the better it performs. For the past 10 years, nearly all smartphone SoCs have been running on ARM’s version 8 designs also written as ARMv8. ARM has been making slight adjustments and updates to their design with the release of ARMv8.1, ARMv8.2, ARMv8.3, ARMv8.4 etc. With the turn of a new decade, ARM have decided to released the long awaited successor to the ARMv8.


Read: Instruction Set Architecture vs Clockspeed


What is ARMv9?

ARMv9 is the latest update to the ARM ISA line up. It is already available to both core and architectural licensees, with MediaTek already hinting at releasing an ARMv9 SoC by December, 2021.

ARMv9 heavily focuses on security, AI and Machine learning, scalability and finally performance.

Security:

In this new architecture, ARM has designed the ARMv9 so that it is divided into compartments. These compartments are known as realms.

These realms can either be secure or non secure. Any data that is deemed high risk by the user or the operating system like your passwords, bank apps or crypto wallets are going to be kept in the secure realm, while general nonspecific data will be left in the non secure realm.

This should ensure that important and personal data stays safe and cannot be hacked or accessed without the owner’s consent or knowledge.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine learning (ML)

Our devices are all becoming smarter with each new generation. Our phones, smartwatches and bands, TVs, Refrigerators and even vacuum cleaners are all smart.

ARMv9 aims to take AI to even greater heights by improving machine learning. The areas of focus include audio and keyword detection to enable our devices understand commands better, voice assistants (Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant) should perform better and photo/video enhancements.

Flexibility and Scalability

ARMv9 is designed to fit in and run on any device regardless of size and function. It can be used to build CPUs for giant servers, laptops, Smartphones and even small smartbands.

It doesn’t matter what device you’re on. ARMv9 promises deliver on all fronts. From Neoverse on cloud servers to Cortex for smartphones, ARMv9 is set to deliver stunning results.

Performance and software

As the world becomes more software oriented, ARMv9 aims to make sure that all software works on ARM’s designs. They also plan to make it easier for developers to build apps/software for ARM’s hardware.

With our Smartphones and other devices taking on more and more responsibility, more computing power is needed. ARMv9 will reduce latency between parts of an SoC. It will increase bandwidth, cache size and frequency (clock speed). These should drive an increase in CPU performance.


Read: What are CPU cores?


ARMv9 will also improve ARM’s Mali GPU which is seen by many as inferior. New graphics technologies such as ray tracing, variable rate shading and advanced rendering techniques will boost Mali GPUs performance.


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