Processing Architecture for Power Efficiency and Performance

Arm big.LITTLE technology is a heterogeneous processing architecture that uses two types of processor. ”LITTLE” processors are designed for maximum power efficiency while ”big” processors are designed to provide maximum compute performance. With two dedicated processors, the big.LITTLE solution is able to adjust to the dynamic usage pattern for smartphones, tablets and other devices. Big.LITTLE adjusts to periods of high-processing intensity, such as those seen in mobile gaming and web browsing, alternate with typically longer periods of low-processing intensity tasks such as texting, e-mail and audio, and quiescent periods during complex apps. 
The performance demanded from users of current smartphones and tablets is increasing at a much faster rate than the capacity of batteries or power savings from advances in semiconductor process. At the same time, users are demanding longer battery life within roughly the same form factor. This conflicting set of demands requires innovations in mobile SoC design beyond what process technology and traditional power management techniques can deliver. 


Typical Processor Combinations

Arm Cortex-A series processor combinations that meet big.LITTLE requirements are shown below



Features and Benefits

Heterogenous Solution

Arm big.LITTLE processing takes advantage of the variation smart devices require in performance by combining two very different processors together in a single SoC.  

Maximum Performance

The big processor is designed for maximum performance within the mobile power budget. 

Optimal Energy-effiency

The smaller processor is designed for optimal efficiency and is capable of addressing all but the most intense periods of work. 

On-demand Task Allocation

big.LITTLE software automatically handles the allocation of tasks to the appropriate CPU cores. The operating system is directly aware of the high-performance and high-efficiency cores in the system, and can dynamically allocate each task to an appropriate core based on the performance required.  

Broad Ecosystem Support

Operating system software to run on the big.LITTLE hardware and is fully supported by the broader Arm ecosystem. 

Talk with an Expert

Interested in designing a next-generation mobile device? Talk to an Arm expert about how big.LITTLE technology can help you.

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