ARM and TSMC ready with 20nm chip tape out

ARM and TSMC have announced the tape out of the first 20nm Cortex A15 MPCore chips, which promise to double performance compared to previous generations.

The 20nm process paves the way for low power computing, with the chips earmarked for future generations of smartphones and tablets.

According to ARM executive vice president Mike Inglis, the test chips will “help meet the increasing demand for high performance, energy-efficient consumer devices”, as the company further turns up the heat on Intel.

The two companies managed to complete the chip development in six months using TSMC’s Open Innovation Platform.

Other firms have also made the migration to 20nm tape outs, with ARM also producing chips at this smaller process along with Samsung in July.  GlobalFoundries meanwhile announced its own tape out back in August.

TSMC vice president Dr Cliff Hou reckons that its partnership with ARM shows that its customers can “successfully engage in fast-growth markets with optimised physical IP, Cortex-A15 processors and TSMC’s advanced technology.”

The test chip was produced using a commercially available 20nm tool chain, using design services made available by TSMC and ARM’s design communities.

According to a statement released by the pair, the chips will see a wide variety of applications, including in high-end digital home and wireless infrastructure, as well as in ARM’s low power servers.