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28 nm design is likely to be the most powerful ARM architecture core yet; perfect for PCs

ARM Holdings plc (LON:ARM) has long been known for its lightweight intellectual property cores, which have dominated everything from slot machines to smartphones.  Power and ARM cores weren’t typically words you heard uttered in the same sentence.  But with ARM preparing to invade the laptop space, courtesy of Windows 8 RT (ARM edition), the world is getting its first taste of ARM cores clocked at the speeds usually reserved for PC users.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Comp., Ltd. (TPE:2330) today announced an important milestone, achieving a stable core clock of 3.1 gigahertz with a Cortex-A9 dual-core chip.  The air-cooled chip, built on TSMC's new 28 nm process, typically operates at lower clock speeds. However, the chip is capable of overclocking to over 3 GHz when performance demands it -- much like rival Intel Corp.'s (INTC"Turbo"-equipped chips.

The chips typically cruise at a more battery-friendly 1.5-2.0 GHz.  Thus, while partners' proprietary designs based on the rapidly maturing process will likely be targeted primarily at the laptop market, there's also the possibility of seeing such speedy designs in tablets or even smartphones.

ARM core
ARM and TSMC are showing that Intel isn't the only one who can play the speed game, showing off a 3 GHz core. [Image Source: Maximum PC]

Cliff Hou, TSMC Vice President, Research & Development, brags, "At 3.1 GHz this 28HPM dual-core processor implementation is twice as fast as its counterpart at TSMC 40nm under the same operating conditions.  This work demonstrates how ARM and TSMC can satisfy high performance market demands. With other implementation options, 28HPM [high performance mobile] is also highly suited for a wide range of markets that prize performance and power efficiency."

ARM Holdings and allies like TSMC need the strong showing.  While they have tremendous potential for growth if they can capture some laptop market share from Intel, they're also facing a counterattack on the smartphone front from Intel.  

Intel's first generation Medfield chips have finally arrived in a limited selection of smartphones, and battery life has been better than expected.  Competition will heat up in 2013 when Intel swaps the 32 nm node Atom Medfield's for a die-shrunk 22 nm version, featuring Intel's power-saving 3D tri-gate transistor design.

In other words ARM, et al. and Intel will be fiercely competing to deliver the most powerful chip computationally with the least electric power consumed.  TSMC's latest effort shows that it can crank up core speeds, but does it have the goods power-efficiency wise?  That remains to be seen.

ARM at least has one trick up its sleeve -- the upcoming ARM Cortex-A15 architecture.

Source: TSMC

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By whyRuCloseMynded on 5/28/2012 10:31:02 PM , Rating: 2
Reading some of these comments.. just wow!
I would truthfully enjoy a hit of what you all are smoking. Windows! really? ... here is a clue. Choose your software wisely and you can run anything your heart desires on ANY device made in the last decade easily. Windows is a very poor example of an OS to lead the way into a power-efficient future. Do you honestly believe if ARM were to come out with a Cortex A-15 quad core laptop chip for the mobile space that Win 8 would be the only option available.. ill take Linux anyday of the week. Unless you know of a version of Windows that run entirely in RAM?
As far as Architecture goes... im running an Atom N550 with Ubuntu 12.04. There isnt anything i cant do (outside of 1080p gaming - HD video playback.. i have a gaming console and big screen tv for that) that i could do on my desktop. Oh and when i want to go outside... im getting a solid 8 hours of webbing around. ARM holdings will push this sort of ideology well beyond what Intel is capable of.. outside of high-end - computational prowess brute force high dollar computing - theyve never had a straw. AMD owns the mid-range nowadays... do you know why? NO ONE CARES about 10 second faster yet more expensive chips. ARM Holdings dominates the mobile markets.
ARM is capable of server boards running 16+cores under 20 watts. Think of what could be possible when they put some of that R&D into ultrathin laptops - all in ones... do you really care if you have to wait 30 secs longer for specific apps when you have the ability to run 16 of them simultaneously? Let alone when OSes much like Haiku become ready for primetime. BeOS on Risc anybody?
Quit giving Software companies the EASY OUT.. Software have far been behind Hardware for a good decade... thanks in large part to this Windows you speak of.

“And I don't know why [Apple is] acting like it’s superior. I don't even get it. What are they trying to say?” -- Bill Gates on the Mac ads

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