ARM signs deal with TSMC to take FinFETs below 20 nm

July 23, 2012 // By Nick Flaherty
Cambridge processor designer ARM has signed a multi-year agreement with global foundry TSMC to take FinFET transistors below 20 nm for ARM's next generation of 64-bit designs.

The collaboration is intended to optimize the next generation of ARMv8 64-bit processors and ARM's Artisan physical intellectual property (IP) for TSMC’s 3D FinFET transistors for use in both mobile and enterprise markets.

The collaboration will enable sharing of technical information and feedback between the two companies: ARM will use process information to optimize the power, performance and area (PPA) of the overall solution to reduce risk and encourage early adoption while TSMC will use the latest ARM processors and technology to benchmark and tune the FinFET process technologies.

The ARMv8 architecture extends ARM low-power leadership with a new energy-efficient 64-bit execution state to meet the performance demands of high-end mobile, enterprise and server applications. The 64-bit architecture has been designed specifically to enable energy-efficient implementations. Similarly, the 64-bit memory addressing and high-end performance are necessary to enable enterprise computing and network infrastructure that are fundamental for the mobile and cloud-computing markets. TSMC’s FinFET process promises higher speed and power improvements as well as leakage reduction.

“By working closely with TSMC, we are able to leverage TSMC’s ability to quickly ramp volume production of highly integrated SoCs in advanced silicon process technology,” said Simon Segars, executive vice president and general manager, Processor and Physical IP Divisions, ARM. “The ongoing deep collaboration with TSMC provides customers earlier access to FinFET technology to bring high-performance, power-efficient products to market.”

“This collaboration brings two industry leaders together earlier than ever before to optimize our FinFET process with ARM’s 64-bit processors and physical IP,” said Cliff Hou, vice president, TSMC Research & Development. “We can successfully achieve targets for high speed, low voltage and low leakage, thereby satisfying the requirements of our mutual customers and meeting their time-to-market goals.”