We've seen IBM and ARM team up before, but this week both companies announced a new joint initiative to develop 14nm chip processing technology. That's significantly smaller than the 20nm SoC technology ARM hopes to create in partnership with TSMC, and makes the company's previous work with IBM on 32nm semiconductors look like a cake walk. The potential benefits, though, are faster processors that require less power, and feature lower per unit manufacturing costs Who knows if or when we'll see tangible results from the tag team, but if IBM's Watson can beat Jeopardy champions, further reducing the average size of a feature that can be created on a chip should be elementary, right? To read over the full announcement check out the press release after the break.
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IBM and ARM to Collaborate on Advanced Semiconductor Technology for Mobile Electronics

SANTA CLARA, CA - 17 Jan 2011: ARM® [(LSE: ARM); (Nasdaq: ARMH)] and IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced an agreement between the two companies to extend their collaboration on advanced semiconductor technologies to enable the rapid development of next generation mobile products optimized for performance and power efficiency. The resulting technology will provide a suite of optimized physical and processor IP by ARM tuned to IBM's advance manufacturing process down to 14nm; providing streamlined development and earlier introduction of advanced consumer electronics into the marketplace.

As the consumer's requirements increase for high end features on mobile devices including; extended battery life, uninterrupted internet access, high end multimedia and secure transactions the chip design becomes increasingly more challenging. Designers must consider nanometer scale effects in terms of lithography, variability, and so on while simultaneously meeting performance, power and area (PPA) targets across hundreds of millions of transistors. This increased complexity potentially results in additional in-house design time.

Through this agreement ARM and IBM will collaboratively develop design platforms aligning the manufacturing process, microprocessor and physical IP design teams. This collaboration will minimize the risk and barriers to migrating to smaller geometries while enabling optimized density, performance, power and yield in advanced SoC designs; accelerating the introduction of advanced electronics into the marketplace.

"ARM's Cortex processors have become the leadership platform for the majority of smart phones and many other emerging mobile devices," said Michael Cadigan, general manager, IBM Microelectronics. "We plan to continue working closely with ARM and our foundry customers to speed the momentum of ARM technology by delivering highly advanced, low-power semiconductor technology for a variety of new communications and computing devices"

"IBM has a proven track record of delivering the core research and development that is relied upon by major semiconductor vendors worldwide for their advanced semiconductor devices. Their leadership of the ISDA alliance, which features a diverse set of top-tier companies as members, is growing in importance as consolidation trends in the semiconductor manufacturing industry continue" said Simon Segars, EVP and general manager, ARM physical IP division. "This agreement will ensure we are able to deliver highly tuned ARM Artisan Physical IP solutions on advanced ISDA process technologies to meet the early time-to-market our customers demand."

Past collaboration with IBM and ARM on advanced geometries have been underway since 2008, resulting in the implementation of extensive process and physical IP refinements to improve SoC density, routability, manufacturability, power consumption, and performance. Moreover, through the previous collaboration on the 32nm and 28nm ARM has already delivered eleven test chips that provide concrete research structures and early silicon validation. In addition, ARM has developed specific optimizations targeting ARM processor cores including most recently a complete ARM Cortex-A9 processor core implemented on 32nm High-K Metal Gate technology.

Today's agreement reinforces the aligned co-development of semiconductor process, foundation Physical IP building blocks, and microprocessor core optimization necessary to achieve market-leading system-on-chip (SoC) solutions. Furthermore, it extend access for ARM to continue this systematic test chip roadmap and assure early time-to-market readiness of the necessary platform of physical and processor IP solutions for nodes ranging from 20nm through 14nm.

For more information on IBM semiconductor technologies visit:

http://www-03.ibm.com/technology/?cm_re=masthead-_-products-_-chips

About ARM
ARM designs the technology that is at the heart of advanced digital products, from wireless, networking and consumer entertainment solutions to imaging, automotive, security and storage devices. ARM's comprehensive product offering includes 32-bit RISC microprocessors, graphics processors, video engines, enabling software, cell libraries, embedded memories, high-speed connectivity products, peripherals and development tools. Combined with comprehensive design services, training, support and maintenance, and the company's broad Partner community, they provide a total system solution that offers a fast, reliable path to market for leading electronics companies.