Sure it's British, but ARM's mobile empire is being built through careful alliances rather than conquest. The chip designer's latest deal with Globalfoundries, which mirrors a very similar agreement signed with rival foundry TSMC last month, is a case in point. It's designed to promote the adoption of fast, energy-efficient 20nm processors by making it easy for chip makers (like Samsung, perhaps) to knock on Globalfoundries' door for the grunt work of actually fabricating the silicon -- since the foundry will now be prepped to produce precisely that type of chip. As far as the regular gadget buyer is concerned, all this politicking amounts to one thing: further reassurance that mobile processor shrinkage isn't going to peter out after the new 32nm Exynos chips or the 28nm Snapdragon S4 -- it's going to push on past the 22nm benchmark that Ivy Bridge already established in the desktop sphere and hopefully deliver phones and tablets that do more with less juice.
ARM and GLOBALFOUNDRIES Collaborate to Enable Next-Generation Devices on 20nm and FinFET Process Technologies
ARM processor, GPU and Physical IP technology-based solutions optimized to accelerate production in critical mobile markets
MILPITAS, Calif. & CAMBRIDGE, United Kingdom--(BUSINESS WIRE)--GLOBALFOUNDRIES and ARM today announced a multi-year agreement to jointly deliver optimized system-on-chip (SoC) solutions for ARM® processor designs on GLOBALFOUNDRIES' 20-nanometer (nm) and FinFET process technologies. The new agreement also extends the long-standing collaboration to include graphics processors, which are becoming an increasingly critical component in mobile devices. As part of the agreement, ARM will develop a full platform of ARM Artisan® Physical IP, including standard cell libraries, memory compilers and POP™ IP solutions. The results will help enable a new level of system performance and power-efficiency for a range of mobile applications, from smartphones to tablets to ultra-thin notebooks.
The companies have been collaborating for several years to jointly optimize ARM Cortex™-A series processors, including multiple demonstrations of performance and power-efficiency benefits on 28nm as well as a 20nm test-chip implementation currently running through GLOBALFOUNDRIES fab in Malta, N.Y. This agreement extends the prior efforts by driving production IP platforms that will enable customer designs on 20nm and promote rapid migration to three-dimensional FinFET transistor technology. This joint development will enable a faster time to delivering SoC solutions for customers using next-generation ARM CPUs and GPUs in mobile devices.
GLOBALFOUNDRIES plans to develop optimized implementations and benchmark analysis for next-generation, energy-efficient ARM Cortex™ processor and ARM Mali™ graphics processor technologies, accelerating customers' own SoC designs using the respective technologies. The comprehensive platform of ARM Artisan Physical IP for GLOBALFOUNDRIES' 20nm-LPM and FinFET processes and POP IP products provide fundamental building blocks for SoC designers. This platform builds on the existing Artisan physical IP platforms for numerous GLOBALFOUNDRIES' process technologies including 65nm, 55nm and 28nm, as well as the Cortex-A9 POP technology for 28nm SLP, now available for licensing from ARM.
"This early engagement promotes the rapid adoption of ARM and GLOBALFOUNDRIES technologies in future SoCs for several important markets," said Simon Segars, executive vice president and general manager, Processor and Physical IP Divisions at ARM. "Customers designing for mobile, tablet and computing applications will benefit extensively from the energy-efficient ARM processor and graphics processor included in this collaboration. By proactively working together to enable next-generation 20nm-LPM and FinFET process technologies, our mutual customers can be assured a range of implementation options that will enable two more generations of advanced semiconductor devices."
ARM POP technology accelerates the core hardening for ARM's Cortex-A series CPUs with market-leading performance, power and area. POP IP products are comprised of three critical elements necessary to achieve an optimized ARM core implementation. First, it contains Artisan physical IP standard cell libraries and memory cache instances that are specifically tuned for a given ARM processor and foundry technology. Second, it includes a comprehensive benchmarking report to document the exact conditions and results ARM achieved for the processor implementation across an envelope of configuration and design targets. Finally, it includes the detailed implementation knowledge including floor plans, scripts, design utilities and a POP Implementation Guide, which enables the end customer to achieve similar results quickly and with lower risk.
The GLOBALFOUNDRIES 20nm-LPM technology is a comprehensive, cost-effective platform, delivering up to 40 percent performance improvement and twice the gate density of 28nm. Since it will offer a range of transistor capabilities, 20nm-LPM will serve a broad range of power and performance points across high-volume market segments. By offering a full scaling of the transistor and metal pitch, the resulting 20nm-LPM devices will be highly competitive in cost and area to suit the requirements of next-generation devices.
This collaboration also extends to GLOBALFOUNDRIES' FinFET-based process technology. By anticipating this process technology from the beginning, the partners will jointly optimize both the physical IP and process technology to assure a rapid migration path from 20nm-LPM. As a result, this collaboration will result in a range of implementation solutions available sooner and at lower risk than ever before.
"ARM technologies are at the heart of many of the world's highest volume product categories, and we believe will only grow in importance for our customers in the years ahead," said Mike Noonen, executive vice president, worldwide marketing and sales at GLOBALFOUNDRIES. "By leveraging our implementation knowledge and applying it to a next-generation, energy-efficient ARM processor and graphics processing unit, we believe we can jointly offer a compelling differentiation to our mutual customers that will power innovation into the next two generations."