ARM & Cadence Tape Out 20nm Cortex A15 Test Chipby Anand Lal Shimpi on October 18, 2011 10:30 AM EST
Although we won't see the first ARM Cortex A15 based designs until the second half of next year, and even then only on 28/32nm processes, ARM and design tools supplier Cadence have announced the first tape-out of a 20nm Cortex A15 based test chip. Tape out signals the end of an overall design phase and the release of the design to the foundry for manufacturing. The Cortex A15 is expected to be a significant step forward for ARM, bringing its designs further up the chain into the low-end x86 notebook market in addition to current smartphone/tablet targets. Cortex A15 based designs will also go head to head with Qualcomm's Krait based Snapdragon S4.
The test chip will be fabbed at TSMC on it's next-generation 20nm process, a full node reduction (~50% transistor scaling) over its 28nm process. With the first 28nm ARM based products due out from TSMC in 2012, this 20nm tape-out announcement is an important milestone but we're still around two years away from productization.