“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 at ARM, in a statement. “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,” added 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.”
In many ways TSMC’s FinFET technology is similar to Intel’s performance boosting and power saving Tri Gate transistor architecture found in its Ivy Bridge lineup. With both Tri Gate and TSMC’s FinFET technology, flat “planar” transistor circuitry is replaced with three dimensional transistor structure which allows for a more economical use of space on increasingly smaller chip dies.
Now that ARM has passed the 64-bit milestone, the ever-more venerable chip licensor’s silicon is now a viable option instead of traditional chipmakers for high performance and server computing. ARM’s commanding market lead in mobile and low power computing already has the traditional chip titans worried; a jump into the realm of providing processors for personal computing and servers is bound to frighten.
In mid-July, the San Jose Mercury News reported that Intel was apparently risking defections by major OEMs — apparently spurred by putative Intel partner Microsoft using an ARM chip in its upcoming Windows Surface tablet.
While ARMs growth is certainly real, the interest in it by OEMs as a replacement for traditional chip manufacturers may be nothing more than “toe-in-the-water kinds of experiments”, as Mike Feibus of TechKnowledge Strategies puts it. Hewlett Packard last month opted for Intel’s Centerton chips from its Atom line over ARM-based processors for the first batch of low-power Project Moonshots servers.