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Armv9 is Arm's first new architecture in over a decade

by Mark Tyson on 31 March 2021, 11:11

Tags: ARM

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Arm has announced the Armv9 instruction set architecture (ISA), its first new architecture in over a decade. The chip designer seems confident that Armv9 is going to be a success, and it is going to be everywhere – in 300 billion new Arm chips in the coming years, it predicts. Part of that confidence comes from careful planning to make sure Armv9 addresses a particular trio of important areas, with significant advances - security, performance, and AI.

The management at Arm see security as the greatest challenge for the industry. It reminds us that a single vulnerability could compromise entire networks and hacking activity is at an all-time high with Symantec's IoT honeypots detecting 19 million attack attempts in just one quarter of 2020. Thus, delivering confidential computing is an industry, and an Arm, priority.

Armv9 introduces the Arm Confidential Compute Architecture (CCA). It explains, in brief, that confidential computing "shields portions of code and data from access or modification while in-use, even from privileged software, by performing computation in a hardware-based secure environment". Moreover, Arm CCA introduces the concept of Realms. Any Arm app will be able to leverage Realms to keep its code and data private from other software tasks. Arm worked closely with Microsoft in developing CCA.

Arm seems to be quite proud of how processors based upon its designs have made greater performance steps than the industry average over recent years. It asserts that this momentum will continue moving into the first Armv9 CPUs, which are expected to arrive with "performance increases of more than 30 per cent over the next two generations of mobile and infrastructure CPUs." Total Compute design principles are going to be applied across the entire Arm IP portfolio of automotive, client, infrastructure and IoT solutions in Armv9 designs.

A specific computing architecture improvement mentioned by Arm is in the development of Scalable Vector Extensions (SVE) technology with the help of Fujitsu. The new SVE2 tech will work with vectors that are up to 2,048 bits in length (up from 128 bit limit of SVE), to enable "an enormous amount of parallel compute". SVE was originally designed for HPC and is used in the Arm-based Fujitsu A64FX chip now powering the world’s fastest supercomputer, Fugaku. However, SVE2 targets a more diverse array of compute niches like DSP and XR workloads.

SVE2 also has a role to play in various new approaches to deploying more powerful AI. Arm foresees many use cases for Arm processors with AI and ML processing acceleration and says this tech will get a further boost in coming years via upgrades to Matrix Multiplication. A role for AI in Mali GPUs and Ethos NPUs is expected too.

Arm didn't indicate when the first Armv9 processors might reach consumer devices, but it has already stated we have begun the Armv9 decade.



HEXUS Forums :: 4 Comments

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With regards to security, ARM needs to ensure their clients see this as an added layer, not some silver bullet.

It's so often the case where people accept deficiencies in their own security because they assume the next team along is doing a good job and so it won't matter. Especially if they don't understand the technicalities of the other team's job.

“It doesn't matter if we're using Internet Explorer or databases vulnerable to SQL injection or machines that run Windows XP and have a webcam in secure areas…. the firewall will protect all”.

EDIT: Missed opportunity - “Realm Manager”???? Surely “Lord of the Realm” would have been the obvious choice? I hope it's referred to in software as MyLord.
philehidiot
EDIT: Missed opportunity - “Realm Manager”???? Surely “Lord of the Realm” would have been the obvious choice? I hope it's referred to in software as MyLord.
In this woke world supporting the male patriarchy in your computer software might cause people to start throwing arm logos in the river.
I would do a LOL here, but really the current state of the world and the minds of many people in the world, the future is indeed a bleak one.
philehidiot
With regards to security, ARM needs to ensure their clients see this as an added layer, not some silver bullet.
Not ARM's responsibility IMHO
It's so often the case where people accept deficiencies in their own security because they assume the next team along is doing a good job and so it won't matter. Especially if they don't understand the technicalities of the other team's job.

“It doesn't matter if we're using Internet Explorer or databases vulnerable to SQL injection or machines that run Windows XP and have a webcam in secure areas…. the firewall will protect all”.

Human nature. Humans are lazy and stupid. The path of least resistance will always be chosen. A good security team will do their best to make secure by design* the path of least resistance.

However many security teams are simply the department of “no cant do that, SECURITY!” rather than trying to help the business along its security journey. So the other teams simply find ways to circumvent security to get their jobs done.


*This covers all of the sub areas such as defence in depth/zero trust etc and should even include how to maintain that security operationally.