ARM Expects First Chips Made Using 20nm Process Late Next Year

ARM Forecasts First Devices Powered by 20nm Chips to Emerge by Late 2013

by Anton Shilov
06/07/2012 | 10:51 PM

It is not a secret that both leading contract makers of semiconductors - Globalfoundries and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company - plan to start production of chips using 20nm process sometimes in the second half of next year. Apparently, ARM, the developer of low-power microprocessor technologies, expects actual devices based on 20nm chips to arrive by late 2013.


ARM-based chips made using next-generation 20nm manufacturing process could appear in smartphones and tablets by as soon as the end of next year, Simon Segars, general manager of the processor and physical IP divisions at ARM, told reporters at the Computex 2012 tradeshow in Taipei, Taiwan on Monday, reports IDG News Service.

"The whole industry is focused on moving to the next generation as soon as it is economically viable and technologically achievable," said Mr. Segars.

Both Globalfoundries and TSMC taped out their test chips produced using 20nm fabrication processes around the middle of last year, so chip designers have started to evaluate 20nm designs quite some time ago. In fact, ARM and TSMC last October even taped out the first 20nm ARM Cortex-A15 MPCore processor. The two companies completed the implementation from RTL to tape out in six months using TSMC’s open innovation platform (OIP) 20nm design ecosystem. TSMC’s 20nm process provides more than a two times performance increase over preceding generations, the firms said by then.

The two leading foundries have also announced formal plans to begin volume production of products using 20nm fabrication process towards the end of 2013. The biggest question is whether chip developers will be ready with designs and whether GF and TSMC are able to provide enough manufacturing capacities.

Numerous companies blamed TSMC for undersupplying chips produced at 28nm nodes (both HKMG and SiON). Globalfoundries also took several quarters to ramp up production at its 32nm HKMG SOI process technology. Knowing that, few companies would bet on foundries' ability to ship 20nm chips by the end of 2013 in volume.