28nm ARM Cortex-A9 SoC hits 2.5GHz

GlobalFoundries and ARM have taped out a dual-core Cortex-A9 (test) processor operating at frequencies of more than 2.5GHz.

A GlobalFoundries rep told TG Daily that the 2.5GHz performance results are based on wafers running in GloFo Fab 1 in Dresden, Germany, on the company’s 28nm high performance technology.

An additional performance increase is expected on GloFo’s 28nm High Performance Plus (HPP) platform, which is the solution of choice for wired networking applications, with extremely low active power and an operating point of 0.85V.

The two industry heavyweights also announced a 20nm tape out of Cortex-A9 processors using GloFo’s Technology Qualification Vehicle (TQV) – which allows the foundry to optimize its advanced process technology for customer designs based on Cortex-A series processors.

“The solution is [obviously a lot] more than [just] a standard test chip,” the GloFo rep explained.

“Each TQV is designed to emulate a full specification SoC and aims to improve performance, lower power consumption and facilitate a faster path to market for foundry customers.”

Indeed, the 20nm TQV is based on GloFo’s next-gen platform, which will improve performance by up to 35% and nearly halve power consumption when compared to 28nm technologies. 

The goal of the 20nm TQV is the same as the 28nm TQV: to develop process technology that is optimized for Cortex-A series processors. Early collaboration between GloFo and ARM is expected to help chip designers address the increasing design and manufacturing complexities of 20nm technology, while reducing time to volume production.

“These milestones are proof that the strategic collaboration involving Cortex-A series processors implemented using Artisan advanced physical IP and GloFo’s 28nm process technology is able to deliver leading high-performance, energy-efficient solutions,” said ARM exec Simon Segars.

“Furthermore, it serves as a foundation for next-generation mobile and high-end consumer devices using 20nm process technology.”