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GlobalFoundries and ARM Holdings on Monday signed a multi-year agreement to jointly deliver optimized system-on-chip (SoC) solutions for ARM processor designs on GlobalFoundries’ 20nm and future 14nm process technology that will use FinFET transistors. The new agreement also extends the collaboration to include Mali graphics processors.

"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. Customers designing for mobile, tablet and computing applications will benefit extensively from the energy-efficient ARM processor and graphics processor included in this collaboration," said Simon Segars, executive vice president and general manager of processor and physical IP divisions at ARM.

As part of the agreement, ARM will develop a full platform of ARM Artisan physical IP, including standard cell libraries, memory compilers and POP [processor optimization package] IP solutions. 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. The joint development will enable a faster time to delivering SoC solutions for customers using next-generation ARM CPUs and GPUs in mobile devices.

The GlobalFoundries 20nm-LPM technology promises to be comprehensive, cost-effective platform, delivering up to 40% 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.

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, New York. 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 at 14nm and thinner nodes.

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.

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 before.

“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,” said Mike Noonen, executive vice president, worldwide marketing and sales at GlobalFoundries.

Tags: Globalfoundries, 20nm, 14nm, FinFET, ARM, Cortex, Semiconductor

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