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