TSMC Demos 3.1GHz Dual-Core ARM Cortex-A9 Test Chip

TSMC's 28nm High-Performance Mobile Process Tech Enables Extreme Clock-Speeds

by Anton Shilov
05/03/2012 | 12:30 PM

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company on Thursday said that its test chip with two ARM Cortex-A9 cores produced using high-performance mobile (HPM) version of its 28nm process technologies achieved 3.10GHz clock-speed in "typical conditions". The frequency is the record clock-speed for any ARM-based system-on-chip, but at such clock-speed the chip can only function with proper cooling. 28HPM will be available for commercial production in the second half of 2012.


“At 3.10GHz this 28HPM dual-core processor implementation is twice as fast as its counterpart at TSMC 40nm under the same operating conditions. This work demonstrates how ARM and TSMC can satisfy high performance market demands. With other implementation options, 28HPM is also highly suited for a wide range of markets that prize performance and power efficiency," said Cliff Hou, vice president of research and development at TSMC.

The contract chipmaker noted that using various design signoff conditions, dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 at TSMC' 28HPM delivers clock speed in the range from 1.5G0Hz to 2.0GHz, suitable for mobile computing, and up to 3.1GHz for high-performance uses, which are properly cooled systems. TSMC did not unveil voltages and heat dissipation of the 3.10GHz chip. With its wide performance-to-leakage coverage, the 28nm HPM process was developed for devices targeting networking, tablet and mobile consumer product applications.

The ARM Cortex-A9 silicon implementation and validation is part of TSMC’s ongoing technology benchmarking effort to demonstrate performance, power and area (PPA) capabilities at the system-on-chip (SoC) level for each process technology node.

“TSMC’s high performance 28HPM process is suitable for a wide range of advanced ARM-processor based applications, extending from high-frequency, performance-orientated computing devices to power sensitive applications. The collaboration between ARM, TSMC and our ecosystem partners has delivered an extensible implementation platform that enables flexibility in performance and power management tradeoffs for next generation products,” said Jim Nicholas, vice president of marketing of processor division at ARM.