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ARM will work with TSMC on 64-bit ARMv8 chips

FinFETs hold the key
Mon Jul 23 2012, 13:52
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CHIP DESIGNER ARM is working with chip shop TSMC to optimise 64-bit ARMv8 processors for TSMC's FinFET process technology.

ARM and TSMC have been working for some time to optimise the chip designer's architecture to TSMC's process nodes. Now the two firms have announced that they will continue to collaborate on optimisations beyond the 20nm class process node and on FinFET transistors for 64-bit ARMv8 processors.

ARM will work with TSMC to optimise its ARMv8 architecture to make use of TSMC's power, performance and area in its FinFET process nodes. In theory it should provide a better chance for ARM's licensees to hit higher frequencies or lower power points.

Simon Segars, EVP and GM of the Processor and Physical IP Divisions at ARM said, "By working closely with TSMC, we are able to leverage TSMC's ability to quickly ramp volume production of highly integrated SoCs in advanced silicon process technology. The ongoing deep collaboration with TSMC provides customers earlier access to FinFET technology to bring high-performance, power-efficient products to market."

TSMC has been working on FinFET transistors for over a decade, with the multi-gate transistor technology offering one of the best chances to scale down to sub-15nm process nodes. Intel's tri-gate transistor technology shown off in its Ivy Bridge processors is a subset of multi-gate FinFET transistors, and both AMD and IBM have bet big on FinFET transistors providing the scaling required to hit performance goals in the next decade.

Although ARM-based servers have garnered a lot of column inches, ARM needs to bring out a 64-bit architecture if it wants to truly compete with Intel's 64-bit processors. When the firm does that, it seems that TSMC will be the foundry of choice for ARM licensee chip designers. µ


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