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Cortex A9 processor passes 3.1GHz at TSMC

There are several things that affect the overall performance of a processor-based device. You can look for bottlenecks in the data transfer and try to improve them or get the internals of the chip itself to do more work per clock cycle. While balance is important, almost nothing can beat ‘flat out, straight line speed’. TSMC has been watching episodes of The Road Runner and is ready to report on progress. KitGuru opens a box from Acme and says ‘Beep, beep’.

The original design parameters for the A9 processor should have delivered a chip in the 1.5GHz to 2GHz range. Which sounds pretty handy for many applications.

However, in the hands of TSMC’s rocket scientists and a proven 28nm process, it looks as though the Brit-originated ARM design is ready to hand Intel some mobile b*tch-slappin with a rock solid 3.1 giggle hurts on tap. It’s been squeezed past 3.1 in private, but not with the stability that TSMC wants to announce.

Comparing the performance of the improved A9, TSMC boffins say that it is able to deliver almost exactly double the processing power as a similar design running on an older chip (with a similar design) made with the antiquated 40nm process.

You might be wondering why the big push from TSMC on ARM manufacturing. Well the tablet-specific version of Windows 8 has been made for the ARM instruction set – not Intel. That means a significant increase in requirement for this kind of processor is likely. No messing around, ARM has publicly stated that it wants half of tomorrow’s mobile world to be running on its chips.

Having moved to Global Foundries, Qualcomm is hoping to bring a quad core version of the SnapDragon into play, to counter ARM’s increasing dominance.

ARM is expecting to dent Intel’s server market share by 2014.

Any collision that results in 50% damage must be considered a serious accident. Intel's counter offensive begins with Atom chips in India, but will it succeed in damaging ARM enough to prevent the mighty-midget causing irreperable damage?

KitGuru says: Given AMD’s relationship with TSMC, its design knowledge relating to CPU, GPU and APU – it’s a pity that they did not get their designs lined up on the right timeline. It does look as though the market share was there to be won, however it is being won by ARM. Hands up every guru who predicted 5 years ago that Intel would be reduced to a 50% stake holder in the fastest growing chip market?  Nope?  Us neither. Damn these ARM boys are good.

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