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TSMC says it made a 28nm 3.1GHz Cortex A9 chip

Gives Qualcomm a reason to stay
Thu May 03 2012, 12:40

WAFER BAKER Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has announced that its 28nm high performance mobile (HPM) process node has managed to fab an ARM Cortex A9 chip that can run at 3.1GHz.

TSMC's 28nm process node comes in a number of flavours and while GPU designers AMD and Nvidia have been using the firm's high performance 28nm process node, the firm is now keen to push the viability of arguably its most profitable 28nm product, the HPM version. It said its 28nm HPM process node has been able to build a dual-core ARM Cortex A9 based chip that runs at 3.1GHz.

TSMC has said its 28nm HPM process node is specifically meant for networking devices, smartphones and tablets. While TSMC's demonstration doesn't mean we'll see 3.1GHz dual-core chips in smartphones in the coming months, it does show that ARM's architecture can be scaled up to very high frequencies.

Cliff Hou, TSMC VP of Research & Development said, "At 3.1 GHz this 28HPM dual-core processor implementation is twice as fast as its counterpart at TSMC 40nm [process node] under the same operating conditions. This work demonstrates how ARM and TSMC can satisfy high performance market demands."

ARM recently announced optimisation packs for chip designers wanting to use TSMC's 28nm process node. In a recent investors call, TSMC said it is adding capacity to its 28nm process node as it tries to meet demand, after Qualcomm said it is looking for back-up suppliers so it can mitigate foundry delays in the future.

TSMC did not say when production silicon using its 28nm HPM process node will be available, but this announcement should serve as an indication of what will end up in smartphones, though perhaps not for a few quarters yet. µ


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