BACK IN SEPTEMBER ARM and Global Foundries announced that they had taped out the industry’s first 28nm ARM Cortex A9 SoC using Gate First High-K Metal Gate technology. Although not much more detail was given at the time, Global Foundries did unveil a little more of what to expect from this partnership at GTC Asia.
Global Foundries will be making 28nm ARM based SoC solutions at its Dresden plant as previously announced, but as ARM doesn’t actually make hardware, what has been made so far has been validation chips. What this means is that any of ARM’s partners that make the actual SoC solutions will now know that Global Foundries is a validated foundry for Cortex A9 based SoC’s. This should, in theory, make Global Foundries the first choice for ARM’s partners to have their Cortex A9 based solutions made.
Global Foundries will have early expertise on how to make Cortex A9 based SoC and combine this with their optimized foundry customer hard macros and they have an edge over any other foundry that would consider making Cortex A9 based SoC. This doesn’t even take the 28nm advantage into consideration, something which will lead to lower power Cortex A9 solutions. In fact, using Global Foundries 28nm HP processors allows the Vdd for said SoC to operate at a mere 0.85V compared to 1V for the same SoC made using a standard generic 40nm process.
On top of this, Global Foundries claims that we’ll see higher clock speeds for Cortex A9 SoC’s made on its 28nm HP process. According to one of the slides shown at GTC we can expect clock speeds of 2 to 2.5GHz for 28nm Cortex A9 SoC’s with a potential of hitting 2.8GHz using Voltage overdrive. This should make next year very interesting in terms of the kind of performance we’ll be seeing from the various Cortex A9 solutions coming out. We don’t know who will be making their ARM parts at Global Foundries, but we’d guess Qualcomm is at least one of the companies that will continue to have its parts made at the foundry.S|A
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