ARM Unveils Cortex A17 Processor, First Used in Mediatek MT6595 and Rockchip RK3288 SoCs

Finally all these ARM Cortex A17 marketing materials for Rockchip RK3288 were not some typos, but Rockchip marketing team may just have not received the memo reading “Confidential”, as ARM has now officially announced Cortex A17 processor based on ARMv7-A architecture, with support for big.LITTLE with Cortex A7, and that can be coupled with Mali-T720 mid-range GPU and Mali-V500 VPU.

ARM_Cortex_A17After Cortex A15, and Cortex A12, you may wonder “Why? But Why did ARM had to launch yet another new core?”. Here’s the company answer to that question:

The Cortex-A17 processor offers 60% performance uplift over the Cortex-A9 processor, the current leader in mid-range mobile market, and betters the best efficiency enabling optimized solutions to address existing and new products. The Cortex-A17 processor is based on the popular ARMv7-A architecture, today’s most successful architecture in the mobile market. With over 1M apps supporting the ARMv7-A architecture, the Cortex-A17 processor is primed to bring the high-end performance levels of 2014 to next generation mid-range devices in 2015, with further increased efficiency for enabling a better user experience.

The Cortex-A17 processor is scalable up to 4 cores, each offering a full out-of-order pipeline delivering peak performance of today’s premium performance levels. A fully integrated, low-latency L2 cache controller, accelerator interfaces to target specific use cases, and high-throughput AMBA 4 ACE Coherent Bus Interface enable the Cortex-A17 processor to be tailored for the right task. Its modern design is best complemented with the latest advanced IP like ARM Mali-T720 GPU, ARM Mali-DP500 DPU, and ARM Mali-V500 VPU and CoreLink CCI-400, but is also fully backwards compatible to existing AMBA3 and AMBA4 AXI based systems based on ARM Mali-450 GPU and CoreLink NIC-400 to ease integration and time-to-market.

The Cortex-A17 processor, in combination with its high-efficiency counterpart Cortex-A7 processor, provides an ideal solution for mobile devices in 2015 and beyond, bringing the heterogeneous processing benefits of big.LITTLE Global Task Switching (GTS) to the mid-range market. Coupled with CoreLink System IP components like the CoreLink CCI-400 interconnect, Cortex-A17 and Cortex-A7 processors are the foundation for upcoming devices that are more efficient and higher performance than any solution in this class before.

I’m not quite satisfied by that answer… No comparison with Cortex A12 or A15. I’m guessing they’ve probably made some power consumption improvements compared to Cortex A15 which dissipates a lot of heat. Looking at the different cores specifications on ARM website do not find meaningful differences. Nevertheless, Cortex A17 will be used in SoC used in mobile devices (smartphones and tablets), smart TVs, over-the-top devices, automotive infotainment, and other consumer oriented markets, and seems to be used as a Cortex A9 replacement.

The first SoC officially announced with Cortex A17 is Mediatek MT6595 (which somehow will become MTK6595 on many sites) an Octacore mobile SoC with 4x Cortex A17, 4x Cortex A7 in big.LITTLE configuration fully supporting Heterogeneous Multi-Processing (HMP) with Imagination PowerVR Series6 GPU, H.265 UHD decoding and encoding support, and an LTE modem. Mediatek MT6595 will be commercially available in H1 2014, with devices expected in H2 2014. The other SoC with Cortex A17 and probably Mali-720 GPU should be Rockchip RK3288, following the unintended leak at CES 2014…

You can find a bit more details on ARM Cortex A17 page.

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17 Replies to “ARM Unveils Cortex A17 Processor, First Used in Mediatek MT6595 and Rockchip RK3288 SoCs”

  1. @cnxsoft
    Oh no, not PowerVR again … it seems that for some reason companies like PowerVR. I would too but then I remember about their binary blobs they call drivers.
    And yes, I’m sure the companies that make the SOC are to blame. Because I’m sure Intel insisted on not having Linux support and having a closed source binary blob.
    Well at least Intel is starting to use their own GPU which has nice open source support in upstream Mesa so thank God for that.

  2. I would like to know, if possible to have NDA with mediatek, if it ‘s easy? for a project, without start up for the moment?

  3. @Marius
    Actually with Mediatek, I’m fine with PowerVR since they clearly don’t give a damn about Linux and compliance with open source licenses for their mobile application processors, so it does not matter which GPU they choose. The PowerVR GPUs have pretty good performance.

    That’s probably why we don’t see many type of device based on Mediatek SoCs: mainly smartphones and tablets, as well as some portable game consoles. They used to be a strong player in DVDs, but finally decided to more or less leave this market. However I can see they still sell DVD / Bluray ICs, and several TV IC, but nothing for STBs.

  4. @Mantas
    MT6595 will be Cortex A17 for sure, or they made a massive mistake in their press release.

    For RK3288 it’s less clear, and I may have jumped the gun a bit here, but I’m still confident it will be Cortex A17. Here’s the timeline. RK3288 was previously announced to be a quad core Cortex A12, but at CES 2014 all marketing materials from Rockchip, showed in was a quad core Cortex A17, which really seem like a massive mistake, as ARM did not announce any Cortex A17, as I pointed out in But now we know “Cortex A17” may not be a typo, it would make sense to that Rockchip “forgot” Cortex A17 was still confidential and they were not supposed to mention it.

    For availability, actually it should be later this year, as that’s what Mediatek clearly claims devices should be available in H2 2014 in their press release, so I don’t see why Rockchip would not be able to do the same feat. Maybe Anandtech’s 2015 claim/guess is too pessimistic, or realistic, pick the one you want…

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