The fastest Arm Cortex processor currently available is the Cortex-A77. Announced in 2019, the Cortex-A77 is Arm’s flagship processor for mobile and compute applications. With clock speeds up to 3 GHz, the Cortex-A77 offers a 20% boost in instructions per clock (IPC) and a 4x increase in machine learning performance compared to previous Arm processors.
Key Features of the Cortex-A77
Here are some of the key features and capabilities of the Cortex-A77 processor:
- Built on the advanced 7nm manufacturing process for improved power efficiency
- Up to 3 GHz clock speed for faster processing performance
- 20% higher IPC than previous Cortex-A76 for better overall throughput
- 4x boost in machine learning capabilities with the addition of a Tensor accelerator
- Enhanced branch prediction and prefetching for faster execution of code
- Support for 64-bit instructions and extended virtual addressing
- Up to 4MB of shared L3 cache for reducing memory access latencies
- Latest Arm Neon technology for accelerated media and signal processing
- Dynamic frequency scaling for optimizing power usage
With its combination of high clock speeds and IPC improvements, the Cortex-A77 stands out as Arm’s highest performance processor yet. Applications like mobile gaming, 4K video recording, AR/VR, and machine learning workloads can particularly benefit from the boost in processing power.
Cortex-A77 Performance Benchmarks
In benchmark tests, the Cortex-A77 delivers substantial gains over previous Arm processors like the Cortex-A76 and A75:
- Up to 34% faster than the Cortex-A76 in Geekbench tests
- Over 2x the performance of the Cortex-A75 in GFXBench benchmarks
- Up to a 4x increase in Google’s Neural Network Benchmark compared to the A76
- Significantly lower power draw than the A76 during sustained performance tests
Real-world devices built with the Cortex-A77 and paired with Arm Mali GPUs are capable of achieving 100+ fps in popular mobile games. The neural processing engine also enables features like real-time background blur in cameras and other computer vision capabilities.
The Cortex-A77 CPU and Mali GPUs are available to Arm partners as off-the-shelf solutions. Companies like Qualcomm, Samsung, MediaTek, and Huawei have already announced custom chips integrating the Cortex-A77:
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 – 1x Cortex-A77 core at up to 2.84 GHz
- Samsung Exynos 990 – 2x Cortex-A77 cores at up to 2.73 GHz
- MediaTek Dimensity 1000 – 4x Cortex-A77 cores at up to 2.6 GHz
- Huawei Kirin 990 5G – 2x Cortex-A77 cores at up to 2.86 GHz
These mobile chipsets power many of the latest Android flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S20 series, OnePlus 8 Pro, Xiaomi Mi 10, Oppo Find X2, and more. The Cortex-A77 is also implemented in Chromebook processors like the Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c for Windows laptops.
Evolution of Arm’s Cortex-A Series
The Cortex-A77 continues Arm’s rapid cadence of performance improvements with each CPU generation:
- Cortex-A5 – Released in 2005, operated at up to 1 GHz
- Cortex-A8 – Released in 2007, first 1GHz+ Arm processor
- Cortex-A9 – Released in 2008, out-of-order execution
- Cortex-A15 – Released in 2011, up to 2.5 GHz speeds
- Cortex-A57 – Released in 2012, first 64-bit Arm v8 CPU
- Cortex-A72 – Released in 2015, improved efficiency over A57
- Cortex-A73 – Released in 2016, further refinements
- Cortex-A75 – Released in 2017, major microarchitecture changes
- Cortex-A76 – Released in 2018, first 7nm Arm processor
- Cortex-A77 – Released in 2019, latest flagship CPU
Each generation brings significant IPC and efficiency gains, allowing Arm-based devices to rival and even surpass Intel and AMD chips in mobile form factors. The Cortex lineup has progressed from simple, in-order designs to complex, dynamically scheduled superscalar architectures.
The Road Ahead for Arm Performance
While the Cortex-A77 currently reigns as the fastest Arm CPU, its successor Cortex-A78 promises further improvements. Announced in May 2020, the first Cortex-A78 implementations will likely arrive later this year. Arm is also continuing to push the performance envelope with its Neoverse line of server-class cores scaling up to 96 cores in a single chip. Apple is also designing its own high-performance Arm-based Apple Silicon chips for Macs.
With each generation, Arm keeps closing the gap with x86 in terms of raw performance. Combined with power efficiency advantages, Arm CPUs are becoming viable options even in notebooks and desktops, challenging the x86 dominance in those segments. The future looks bright for Arm performance as competition drives rapid innovation.