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Arm Total Compute Solutions: Engineering for a Mobile Future Built on Arm

Arm Total Compute takes a holistic, solution-focused approach to SoC design, with the third-generation Total Compute Solutions providing the complete platform for mobile computing.
By Ian Smythe, VP Product Marketing, Arm
Tsing Ma Bridge

Arm’s Total Compute strategy marks a change to the way we design compute systems. With each new iteration of Arm technology, we push the limits of performance for smartphones, tablets and other consumer devices. Yet there remains a hard limit: one defined by a device’s thermal and power envelope.

At the same time, the pace of technological change and desire for truly immersive digital experiences that requires more advanced compute have never been higher. This means we have to go beyond traditional approaches to solving system-on-chip (SoC) design challenges and look across the entire compute domain for ways to improve performance.

Total Compute solves these challenges through taking a holistic, solution-focused approach to SoC design, moving beyond individual IP elements to designing and optimizing the system as a whole, enabling richer and more immersive experiences from mobile devices. The third-generation Total Compute Solutions (TCS23) realize this vision, enabling our partners to build the very best premium and flagship mobile SoCs.

Arm Total Compute Solutions target a range of devices, use cases and compute

Total Compute Solutions are purpose-built configurations based on Arm technology that target specialized use cases. Each Solution integrates the latest IP, with TCS23 including: the Armv9.2 compute cluster consisting of the new Cortex-X4Cortex-A720 and Cortex-A520 CPUs and the new DynamIQ Shared Unit, DSU-120; Arm’s new GPUs built on the new 5th Gen architecture (including a new Immortalis flagship GPU; and Interconnect IP. Alongside the latest IP, TCS23 provides development tools, designs and optimizations tailored for the latest Android Operating System and physical implementation support to accelerate SoC designs.

Supporting the aims of the Arm Total Compute strategy, the new solutions are designed to enable different levels of performance, efficiency and scalability across different consumer device market segments, use cases and compute requirements.

  • Premium Total Compute Solutions are designed for exceptional performance and compute-intensive experiences on flagship and premium smartphone and laptop devices.
  • Performance Total Compute Solutions address a wide range of compute requirements across multiple segments, including mid-range smartphones, Chromebooks and high-end DTVs.
  • Efficiency Total Compute Solutions offer ultra-scalability to achieve best-in-class cost efficiency across entry level smartphones, XR wearables, mid-range and entry level DTVs, set-top boxes and smart watches.

Total Compute Solutions fuelled by unique consumer demands across devices

Each device category comes with its own unique consumer demands. Consumers want laptops, for example, that enable productivity, deliver rich 4K video content and support video conferencing throughout the day on a single charge.

In the high-end flagship and premium smartphone segments, consumers want console-quality gaming, high-resolution screens and superior camera quality. Mid-range smartphone users want a premium experience from the same apps and services, but at a more competitive price point.

Consumers want to know that their next TV will stream 4K and 8K content with perfect video and audio quality and with no delay in navigating between services. And in the emerging XR segment, consumers want high quality immersive experiences without the need to regularly remove the device for charging.

Learn more about Total Compute in this whitepaper

Total Compute Solutions accelerate AI in smart devices

A unifying theme across all device sectors is the application of on-device AI and machine learning (ML). Consumers don’t demand AI specifically, they demand apps and services that would not exist without AI and ML compute workloads.

These complex AI use cases pose unique performance challenges for the device, and are addressed by our Total Compute Solutions. A single ML workload often requires diverse computational requirements from the different compute domains on a single SoC. For example, in the now widely recognized ‘portrait mode’ images that can be created on smartphones with dual cameras, the CPU may be used for pre- and post-processing of the image, followed by a GPU to analyze and compute the depth information, before passing it back to the CPU to apply background blur (known as bokeh) and then to the GPU again to apply super resolution.

Total Compute Solutions are heavily optimized across the system to enable the most efficient interplay between these various blocks of IP on a device SoC, and this optimization focuses on AI and ML performance. This broad system approach to boosting AI and ML performance across all the IP in the new solutions will enable our partners to execute AI workloads for a variety of use cases in different power and silicon cost constraints.

Alongside this mission to expand the dimensions of compute performance, Arm is also building robust security foundations and improving developer access through the Total Compute solutions.

Total Compute Solutions take security to new heights

Security is a constantly evolving challenge. There is an increasing focus on ensuring that private information on devices stay on devices under the user’s control. In this regard, the new Total Compute Solutions provide a significant step forward for security, delivering a standardized and scalable solution that supports the entire Arm ecosystem. The solutions also minimize the cost and the performance impact of new security capabilities and updates that have been introduced through the new Armv9.2 architecture.

Existing Total Compute Solutions security features include: Secure-EL2 to provide secure isolation for trusted sources; Memory Tagging Extension (MTE) to identify memory safety violations easily and efficiently; and Pointer Authentication (PAC) and Branch Target Identifier (BTI) to mitigate against Return Orientated Programming (ROP) and Jump Orientated Programming (JOP) attacks.

Through TCS23, Arm remains committed to evolving platform security through new advanced technologies and techniques to increase security assurance. TCS23 supports the Android Virtualization Framework (AVF), which was introduced with Android 13, to provide secure and private execution environments for executing code on ARM-64-based devices. This is ideal for advanced use cases that require stronger security and privacy assurance to user data. Through PAC enhancements, including the new QARMA3 algorithm, the performance impact of PAC and BTI is now reduced to less than one percent for the Cortex-A520 CPU core.

Total Compute Solutions offer unparalleled developer access

With nearly 9 million mobile developers worldwide, we pride ourselves on offering the flexibility and commonality needed to write easier, simpler, more secure and faster software on Arm, for Arm. SVE2 on the Armv9 CPUs means developers can write once, deploy once and then deploy forever, with their code being simpler, shorter and easier to maintain. With Total Compute Solutions, developers benefit from this ease of use, but also gain quicker access to greater performance across the solution stack so they can make improvements to their applications.

Through TCS23, we continue to develop our library software, such as Arm NN and Arm Compute Library, so developers can optimize the execution of their ML workloads on the Armv9 architecture. Since the beginning of this year, Arm NN and Arm Compute Library are being used by Google Apps on Android and already have 100 million active users.

We also continue to provide a wide range of free tools and resources, so developers can optimize their applications on Arm-based mobile devices. Focusing on gaming, we have deep partnerships with leading game engines to ensure our graphics tools provide highly scalable gaming optimizations, while our detailed resources help developers create their own gaming content.

Developers benefit through the new security features, too. As Total Compute Solutions have security ‘built in’, developers are free to build and deploy reliable, stable and secure applications without getting bogged down by the complexity of security. Offering developers a quicker time-to-market ensures they are able to quickly target more performant applications to a broad range of consumer devices and more users.

Digital experiences for the next decade

Total Compute Solutions ensure that tomorrow’s mobile devices will be fully capable of processing the advanced, complex and demanding multi-domain workloads of the future. Digitally empowering people to what they want, where they want, when they want with their mobile devices, whether that’s faster and smoother web scrolling on the go or advanced AAA gaming experiences.

On top of the drive for performance, Arm is providing secure, efficient, scalable and developer friendly solutions that will benefit the entire ecosystem. We’re delivering the compute experiences that will transform how we all live our digital lives for the next decade.

Arm’s third-generation Total Compute Solutions (TCS23)

TCS23 address every level of performance, efficiency and scalability, making it the complete platform for the future of mobile computing.

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Brian Fuller and Jack Melling
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