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ARM and TSMC unveil 16nm FinFET heterogeneous multi-core CPU

ARM Holdings and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. on Tuesday unveiled the world’s first heterogeneous multi-core microprocessor made using 16nm FinFET (16FF) process technology. The chip, which integrates the ARM Cortex-A57 and the ARM Cortex-A53 cores, is designed to showcase that ARM’s designs and TSMC’s 16nm FinFET process technology are compatible and are ready for mass production.

The prototype processor is the first chip that uses ARM’s Big.Little technology, i.e., integrates high-performance ARM Cortex-A57 cores and low-power ARM Cortex-A53 cores, and is made using TSMC’s 16nm FinFET manufacturing process. The Cortex-A57 cores can operate at up to 2.30GHz for maximum performance (an 11 per cent gain in performance at the same power as previous-generation manufacturing technology), whereas the Cortex-A53 cores can consume only 75mW under most common workloads (a 35 per cent drop from the previous node).

“This silicon proof point with ARM Cortex-A57 and Cortex-A53 processors demonstrates the additional benefits in performance and power efficiency that 16nm FinFET technology delivers to Big.Little implementations,” said Pete Hutton, executive vice president and president, product groups, ARM. “The joint effort of ARM, TSMC, and TSMC’s OIP design ecosystem partners will transform end-user experiences across the next generation of consumer devices and enterprise infrastructure.”


Customers of ARM and TSMC can license physical implementations of the Cortex-A53 and the Cortex-A57 for 16nm FinFET fabrication process and integrate them in the appropriate 16FF designs.

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KitGuru Says: Looks like TSMC is getting pretty aggressive with promotion of its 16nm FinFET technology not only among chip developers, but among consumers as well. Last week the company announced that it was ready to mass-produce many-core network processor for Huawei.

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