ARM and TSMC successfuly tape out the first Cortex-A57 processor, using 16nm tech
posted by Daniel P. / Apr 02, 2013, 6:44 AM
Forget Cortex-A15 processor cores, as found in Samsung's Exynos 5 Octa processor for the Galaxy S4, and partially in Qualcomm's newest Snapdragons, like the 600 in HTC One.
The British mobile chip designer from ARM Holdings, and the TSMC foundry announced they have successfully taped out the first 64-bit Cortex-A57 processor, made using TSMC's novel 16nm FinFET production tech, after a cooperation in the 64-bit realm with the 20nm process that started last year. The project completion took just six months, and ARM says this is their most powerful processor yet.
When exactly are we to see the monster silicon in tablets and other mobile computing gear remains to be told, but given the pace with which things are happening in the mobile realm, this moment shouldn't be far off. We can only salivate at the possibilities such powerful processors will bring to devices, as ARM says it is even suitable to cluster up for servers, so how about them tablets with Cortex-A57 cores? TSMC was rumored to supply Apple with some 16nm FinFET chips for a "breakthrough product," so we might be seeing ARM's new baby in future iPads or even Macs at some point.
HSINCHU, Taiwan and CAMBRIDGE, England, April 2, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- ARM and TSMC (TWSE: 2330, NYSE: TSM) today announced the first tape-out of an ARM® Cortex™-A57 processor on FinFET process technology. The Cortex-A57 processor is ARM's highest performing processor, designed to further extend the capabilities of future mobile and enterprise computing, including compute intensive applications such as high-end computer, tablet and server products. This is the first milestone in the collaboration between ARM and TSMC to jointly optimize the 64-bit ARMv8 processor series on TSMC FinFET process technologies. The two companies cooperated in the implementation from RTL to tape-out in six months using ARM Artisan® physical IP, TSMC memory macros, and EDA technologies enabled by TSMC's Open Innovation Platform® (OIP) design ecosystem.
ARM and TSMC's collaboration produces optimized, power-efficient Cortex-A57 processors and libraries to support early customer implementations on 16nm FinFET for high-performance, ARM technology-based SoCs.
"This first ARM Cortex-A57 processor implementation paves the way for our mutual customers to leverage the performance and power efficiency of 16nm FinFET technology," said Tom Cronk, executive vice president and general manager, Processor Division, ARM. "The joint effort of ARM, TSMC, and TSMC's OIP design ecosystem partners demonstrates the strong commitment to provide industry-leading technology for customer designs to benefit from our latest 64-bit ARMv8 architecture, big.LITTLE™ processing and ARM POP™ IP across a wide variety of market segments."
"Our multi-year, multi-node collaboration with ARM continues to deliver advanced technologies to enable market-leading SoCs across mobile, server, and enterprise infrastructure applications," said Dr. Cliff Hou, TSMC Vice President of R&D. "This achievement demonstrates that the next-generation ARMv8 processor is FinFET-ready for TSMC's advanced technology."
This announcement highlights the enhanced and intensified collaboration between ARM and TSMC. The test chip was implemented using a commercially available 16nm FinFET tool chain and design services provided by the OIP ecosystem and ARM Connected Community partners. This successful collaborative milestone is confirmation of the roles that TSMC's OIP and ARM's Connected Community play in promoting innovation for the semiconductor design industry.
I will say I am very confident within the next year Intel will be making a big splash in mobile processors. I don't know if I would necessarily buy an Intel phone this year (although their outlook for Q4 looks very promising), but I think I would definitely consider buying one next year.
Anything co-developed or co-produced with IBM is worth taking a look at. It would be interesting to see if they are both at work on something big for the mobile chipset world that we just haven't heard about.
Why mention tablets only?
The A57 is 30% faster than A15, per clock, without the increase in power consumption.
With 16nm process, it should be almost 50 % less power consuming, per clock, than current 28nm A15 in the Octa, for example.
So all that gets us to about 3.0 Ghz Octa core 64bit PHONES in a year or two, that will actually be more energy efficient (using the super frugal A50 for the four companion cores)
And that's the power of a current high end ultrabook, at least.
Thumbs up, I like your forward vision and thinking. Not everything should be resticted to tablets and will you believe that folks think the Snapdragon 800 is still destined for tablets? I recall some people saying that S600 was for tablets only, oh how the ''cautious 4.3 inch 720p is enough'' brigade are always proven wrong. The bigger market is phones, always has been and always will be, these chip makers are well aware that both phone and tablet are the future.
Why thank you.
And in addition, I'd say that high end phones are in fact the most powerful mobile devices.
In the Android realm, you get phones dominating the best tablets hardware wise simply because they're on the edge of the most prolific and competitive market niche ever.
They dictate the trends, and they make higher profit margins than tablets.
And that is unlikely to change until tablets truly start to sell.
This doesn't apply to Apple obviously, with iPad leading the way in the SoC department.. but that is exactly because of it being the dominant tablet on the market, and the second most important product for Apple
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