Arm Cortex-A series processors

The Arm Cortex-A series of application processors provides a range of solutions for devices undertaking complex compute tasks, like hosting a rich Operating System (OS) platform or supporting multiple software applications.

Compare the specifications of Cortex-A Armv7-A and Armv8-A processors:

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Cortex-A series characteristics

All Armv7-A and Armv8-A based processor cores support the Arm multicore technologies.

  • Up to eight-core implementations for all DynamIQ based processors
  • Up to quad-core implementation for all processors using Armv7-A and the original Armv8-A specification

Key features of the Cortex-A family of devices:

  • Scalable clusters supporting single and multi-core configurations
  • RISC cores with support for Armv7-A and Armv8-A architecture
  • Full backward compatibility with code from previous Arm processors
  • VFP and Neon units to execute floating-point and Advanced SIMD instruction sets
  • Optional cryptographic accelerator engines supporting algorithms like AES, SHA1, and SHA2-256
  • Memory Management Unit (MMU) supporting virtual address and physical address spaces with various page sizes
  • Hardware translation table walking for virtual to physical address translation
  • Big-endian and little-endian data access support
  • Unaligned access support for basic load/store instructions

Cortex-A series resources

Cortex-A Series Programmer's Guide for Armv7-A

Common to all Cortex-A series processors, this programmer's guide is useful for assembly and C language application development for Armv7-A.

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Learn the Armv8-A architecture

Learn how the Arm architecture works with our series of guides. From the fundamentals to more advance concepts, these guides provide an accessible introduction to the architecture that powers Arm-based technology.

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Porting to Arm 64-bit

This porting guide can help if you are migrating from an Armv7 architecture-based design to the Armv8 64-bit A64 instruction set.

Read the guide

Development tools for Cortex-A

We and our partners provide specialist code generation, debug, and analysis tools for software development on Cortex-A series processors, like Arm Development Studio.

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Cortex-A safety documents package

If you need to safety certify your end products, we provide a safety documentation package for silicon developers, and a safety certified toolchain to accelerate the time to market.

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Armv8-A architecture

The Armv8-A architecture provides access to 64-bit-wide integer registers and data operations, and the ability to use 64-bit-sized pointers to memory. Armv8-A also includes the original Arm instruction set, now called A32.

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Cortex-A series additional features

Advanced features in Arm DynamIQ Cortex-A processors
Arm Cortex-A processors use multi-core technology to enable scalability from one to four cores for traditional MPCore processors, and one to eight cores for DynamIQ processors. This technology enables higher amounts of compute processing within the CPU system. To save power, multicore processing allows any of the four component processors within a cluster to shut down when not in use, for example when the device is in standby mode. When higher performance is required, every processor is in use. This means that the processor can meet demand while still sharing the workload, and keeping power consumption as low as possible.

Processors that are based on DynamIQ also improve on:

  • Data security and privacy
  • Advanced safety and RAS features
  • Integrated AI capabilities that enable DynamIQ-based systems to deliver a wide range of solutions

Advanced power management features that are integrated into the DynamIQ processors deliver higher amounts of power savings for energy-efficient designs.

Intelligent compute capabilities
Cortex-A processors that are designed on DynamIQ technology can carry out advanced compute capabilities in Machine Learning and AI.

Interfaces for closely coupled accelerators
DynamIQ technology allows the close coupling of Cortex-A CPUs with external accelerators and I/O-coherent IP. This means that these processors can deliver up to 10x faster response times between CPU and specialized accelerator hardware on the SoC, compared to traditional clusters. This enables DynamIQ-based systems to carry out offload acceleration and I/O-coherent processing for applications, like cryptography acceleration and packet processing, with higher performance and lower latency.

Built-in power-saving features
DynamIQ technology integrates a host of power management solutions. A more rapid and autonomous hardware-controlled power state transition mechanism reduces the latency between the power states supported by Arm Cortex-A CPUs, for example ON, OFF, and SLEEP. DynamIQ technology also includes an autonomous CPU memory power solution, which intelligently adapts the amount of local memory that is available to the CPUs, depending on the type of application that is running.

DynamIQ technology also enables finer-grained Dynamic Voltage and Frequency Scaling (DVFS) of individual and groups of CPUs in a DynamIQ cluster.DVFS maximizes the achieved performance in devices that have a fixed thermal budget, while also providing more power savings from all applications of the technology.

DynamIQ big.LITTLE
You can design next-generation big.LITTLE Cortex-A CPU clusters with a combination of high performance big CPUs and high efficiency LITTLE CPUs in one cluster, with a shared coherent memory. DynamIQ big.LITTLE delivers significant improvements in performance, because it allows a tighter, more coherent system. DynamIQ big.LITTLE also presents unprecedented flexibility and new choices in CPU topology, like 1xbig + 7xLITTLE, to deliver purpose-built solutions.

Advanced RAS and safety features
DynamIQ processors support higher levels of safety requirements, like ASIL D and SIL-3. All DynamIQ-based IP are taken through a rigorous design flow to avoid systematic faults. Safety-related application performance is improved with shorter latency in decision making and actuation across AI scenarios, like Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) for autonomous vehicles. DynamIQ based systems are integrated with advanced features that improve Reliability, Availability and Serviceability (RAS) for applications like industrial and infrastructure.