Arm Holdings, the British semiconductor design firm, has confirmed development of a new CPU core, code-named “Blackhawk,” intended to bridge the performance gap with its rival Apple. The upcoming core is anticipated to be the centerpiece of the Cortex-X5, which is slated to be the most potent CPU the company has produced at its time of launch.
Patrick Moorhead, the CEO of Moor Insights & Strategy, detailed in a research note that the latest CPU design aligns with Arm's strategic goals, under the guidance of Arm chief Rene Haas, to challenge customized Arm processors like those found in Apple's iPhones. Apple, despite being an Arm licensee and partner, steers its iPhone performance through its proprietary chip designs, compelling Android devices to compete with Arm's standard cores. Arm's Cortex-X4, its predecessor, already signaled an ambition towards this direction, being promoted as the fastest Arm CPU when introduced.
The upcoming “Blackhawk” core boasts the most significant year-over-year IPC (instructions per cycle) performance enhancement in half a decade. If Arm's claims, as cited by Moorhead, hold true, it could disrupt the competitive landscape of mobile processing, potentially inducing companies like Samsung to forgo in-house core development in favor of Arm's designs. The impact would not be limited to phone manufacturers, as it affects Qualcomm and other key players in the smartphone processor market.
Financial Outlook and Industry Relevance
With Arm's report on its fiscal 2024 Q3 revenue projected to reach between $720 million and $800 million, the anticipation for the Cortex-X5 adds an intriguing dynamic to the company's financial narrative since going public. Arm stands to strengthen its influence in a broad array of technology sectors, expanding beyond smartphones to encompass artificial intelligence applications in compact devices and general IoT development.
As the expected launch in May approaches, Arm's “Blackhawk” may redefine performance expectations and market dynamics for high-end CPUs in mobile devices. The innovation by Arm could pose a credible threat to Apple's superiority in smartphone chip performance and challenge the long-standing architecture dynamics that have governed the relationship between chip designers and product manufacturers in the tech industry.