ARM and TSMC team up for tinier 20nm Cortex SOCs

It's no secret that ARM ideas are poweringmuch of the mobilerevolution these days, but the company doesn't print its own systems-on-a-chip, that duty gets outsourced to silicon foundries -- like TSMC, who just got all buddy-buddy with the firm to transition future smartphone chips to the 28nm and obscenely tiny 20nm high-k metal gate processes. (We're not sure what this means for GlobalFoundries, who had a similar deal earlier this year.) As per usual with a die size reduction, ARM chips will see higher speed and have decreased power consumption, but since 20nm is (relatively) unexplored territory it could be years before chips hit the market. PR after the break, or hit the more coverage link for further explanation by an ARM VP of Marketing.

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ARM and TSMC Sign Long-Term Strategic Agreement

Enables broad processor and Physical IP optimization on TSMC's most advanced technology nodes

CAMBRIDGE, U.K. & HSINCHU, Taiwan, R.O.C.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--ARM and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, Ltd. (TWSE: 2330, NYSE: TSM) today jointly announced a long-term agreement that provides TSMC with access to a broad range of ARM processors and enables the development of ARM physical IP across TSMC technology nodes. This agreement supports the companies' mutual customers to achieve optimized Systems-On-Chip (SoC) based on ARM processors and covers a wide range of process nodes extending down to 20nm.

"We believe this effort will enhance the value of our Open Innovation Platform that efficiently empowers innovation throughout the supply chain"
The agreement provides TSMC access to optimize the implementation of ARM® processors on TSMC process technologies, including ARM Cortex™ processor family and CoreLink™ interconnect fabric for AMBA® protocols. It also establishes a long-term relationship with ARM for the development of physical IP, including memory products and standard cell libraries targeting the most advanced TSMC 28nm and 20nm processes.

"The signing of this agreement is a significant semiconductor industry milestone because it formalizes a forward looking, long-term relationship between two of the industry's leading companies," explained Mike Inglis, executive vice president and general manager, ARM Processor Division. "I am pleased that ARM and TSMC will be working together to enable ARM processor based SoCs leveraging both companies' advanced technologies."

ARM and TSMC will collaborate on creating TSMC technology optimized processor core implementations for benchmarking of optimal power, performance and area. Typical implementations will target consumer-centric market segments including wireless, portable computing, tablet PCs and high performance computing.

"We believe this effort will enhance the value of our Open Innovation Platform that efficiently empowers innovation throughout the supply chain," said Dr. Fu-Chieh Hsu, Vice President of Design and Technology Platform and Deputy Head of R&D at TSMC. "The combination of ARM's industry leading IP and TSMC's world-class technology and manufacturing provides our mutual customers with compelling benefits for advanced semiconductor applications."

"Through our industry leadership in processor and physical IP and our strategic alliances with leading foundries and EDA companies, ARM is enabling faster time to volume production of SoCs," said Simon Segars, executive vice president and general manager, ARM, Physical IP division. "This new agreement assures the industry that ARM and TSMC will collectively provide IP development leadership for advanced process technologies well into the future."