ARM bullish on FinFET technology

 for SoCs

ARM CEO Warren East says he is unconcerned that rival chip designer Intel has developed a salient lead in process technology over the foundries ARM licensees typically deal with.

Indeed, FinFET technology for RISC-based ARM processors may not ramp up in terms of volume production at TSMC until the second-half of 2015. 

As TG Daily previously reported, TSMC and ARM recently clinched a multi-year agreement to extend ongoing collaboration beyond the realm of 20-nanometer (nm) technology and deliver ARM chips on FinFET transistors.

The collaboration is expected to optimize the next generation of 64-bit ARM processors based on the ARMv8 architecture, ARM Artisan physical intellectual property (IP) and TSMC’s FinFET process for use in mobile and enterprise markets – both of which require high performance and energy efficiency. 

“We are concerned [with] integrated SoCs. For SoC Intel is manufacturing using 32-nm high-k metal gate planar CMOS,” East told the EE Times.

”TSMC is manufacturing using 28-nm high-k metal gate. That doesn’t sound like a massive lead to me. If anything you could argue that TSMC is ahead.”

East also said that although Intel’s 22-nm FinFET is being used for high-volume PC chips, it would be somewhat difficult to manufacture an SoC device with an extensive range of peripheral circuits in that process. 

Nevertheless, as Peter Clarke of the EE Times notes, Santa Clara is expected to manufacture its Atom low-power x86 processor in the 22-nm FinFET CMOS process in 2013 based on an architecture dubbed Silvermont, while Merrifield is likely to be a 22-nm FinFET implementation targeted at high-end smartphones.