The two firms revealed that they have produced a 20 nm tapeout, paving the way for Cortex-A series SoCs. Using GloFo’s 20nm platform it is expected to produce chips with performance levels of up to 35 percent greater and with half the power of 28nm chips. ARM has also already completed a tapeout with GloFo rival TSMC on a 20nm chip back in October.
Also part of the Technology Qualification Vehicle, the development strategy for Cortex chips from 32nm down to 20nm, was a test version of the 28nm Cortex-A9 processor.
The dual core chip will hit frequencies of up to 2.5Ghz and is based on wafers using the 28nm process in GloFo’s Dresden fab. It is expected that the chip will have low active power, with an operating point of 0.85V. According to an announcement made by the two firms, the 28nm A9 is “more than just a test chip” and will enable a quicker route to production.
It is thought that GloFo’s 28nm process should start producing chips sometime next year, though no specifics were given for volume production of the test chip. It is aso generally thought that 20nm chips are likely to see the light of day around 2014.
According to ARM VP Simon Segars, the chip serves as a foundation for “next-generation mobile and high-end consumer devices”, which will put the pressure on another renowned chip manufacturer's own foray into mobile chip production.