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IBM Teams Up With ARM for 14-nm Processing

By - Source: IBM | B 41 comments

IBM and ARM have extended their partnership to develop chips using 14-nm processing technology.

Monday IBM announced a partnership with UK chip developer ARM to develop 14-nm chip processing technology. The news confirms the continuation of an alliance between both parties that launched back in 2008 with an overall goal to refine SoC density, routability, manufacturability, power consumption and performance.

For the uninitiated, the idea is to build smaller, faster chip designs that provide better power management, resulting in longer battery life and better multimedia support than the current crop of ARM-based chips. With the help of ARM's design team, IBM will take ARM's intellectual property (IP) and cram it into IBM's miniscule manufacturing processes.

"ARM’s Cortex processors have become the leadership platform for the majority of smart phones and many other emerging mobile devices," said Michael Cadigan, general manager, IBM Microelectronics. "We plan to continue working closely with ARM and our foundry customers to speed the momentum of ARM technology by delivering highly advanced, low-power semiconductor technology for a variety of new communications and computing devices."

Through the previous ARM/IBM collaboration on the 32-nm and 28-nm, ARM has already delivered eleven test chips that provide concrete research structures and early silicon validation. However, using a 14-nm manufacturing process is quite a drop when compared to ARM's current crop of Cortex processors used in Nvidia's Tegra 2 and Samsung's Hummingbird chips, both of which are using 45-nm technology.

"IBM has a proven track record of delivering the core research and development that is relied upon by major semiconductor vendors worldwide for their advanced semiconductor devices. Their leadership of the ISDA alliance, which features a diverse set of top-tier companies as members, is growing in importance as consolidation trends in the semiconductor manufacturing industry continue," said Simon Segars, EVP and general manager, ARM physical IP division. "This agreement will ensure we are able to deliver highly tuned ARM Artisan Physical IP solutions on advanced ISDA process technologies to meet the early time-to-market our customers demand."

With the 32-nm and 28-nm samples currently out in the field for testing, it's uncertain when we'll see the first samples of the 14-nm process in action. Both ARM and IBM did not offer a projected "availability" date, so stay tuned.

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  • -4 Hide
    bombat1994 , January 20, 2011 9:51 PM
    imagine a 14nm dual 6970.
  • 1 Hide
    accolite , January 20, 2011 9:51 PM
    Wow 14nm that's crazy I thought the lowest they could go is 20nm then they wouldn't be able to control the flow of electrons!
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , January 20, 2011 9:56 PM
    Have they figured out how to deal with the Quantum Tunneling problem?
  • Display all 41 comments.
  • 3 Hide
    joytech22 , January 20, 2011 9:59 PM
    accoliteWow 14nm that's crazy I thought the lowest they could go is 20nm then they wouldn't be able to control the flow of electrons!


    I think that's for high-power devices, or IBM didn't hear about that lol.

    It's so strange that we're getting so close to the absolute minimum our manufacturing technology can reach, I think within the next 5-10 years we'll be seeing chips with circuitry created at the atomic level, if it isn't already done that way right now.
  • 4 Hide
    alchemy69 , January 20, 2011 10:22 PM
    I remember reading an article in a technical journal about how pushing past 100nm would be impossible due to the laws of physics. That was only 15 years ago.
  • 4 Hide
    shoelessinsight , January 20, 2011 10:30 PM
    accoliteWow 14nm that's crazy I thought the lowest they could go is 20nm then they wouldn't be able to control the flow of electrons!

    From what I understand, the limit is nearer to 3 nm, at which point quantum tunneling allows electrons to jump the barriers between circuits. At that point, I imagine our current technology path for computer design will reach a dead end.

    Of course, quantum tunneling isn't necessarily a barrier to our progress. Already, since decades ago, scientists and engineers have been putting forth ideas to use quantum tunneling to our advantage to build 3-dimensional processing units that would have even more performance potential than our current designs!
  • 0 Hide
    nforce4max , January 20, 2011 10:34 PM
    Another move by big blue. ARM has come a long way since the days of the BBC Micro and the Acorn computer.
  • 7 Hide
    NoCaDrummer , January 20, 2011 10:34 PM
    Quote:
    Both ARM and Intel did not offer a projected "availability" date, so stay tuned.

    I thought this was ARM and IBM.
  • 1 Hide
    shoelessinsight , January 20, 2011 10:38 PM
    Alchemy69I remember reading an article in a technical journal about how pushing past 100nm would be impossible due to the laws of physics. That was only 15 years ago.

    I remember the same thing. Back when we were still measuring processing technology in micrometers, it seemed everyone was saying the limit was at 0.1 µm. I remember being very confused when we moved beyond that without hearing anything more about it.

    The limitations we'll be facing in the near future seem a bit more fundamental than whatever difficulties were being discussed 15 years ago, though. I don't imagine we'll be going much smaller for a long time once we reach that point. There are always other routes for progress, however.
  • 0 Hide
    tsnorquist , January 20, 2011 11:03 PM
    Atomic computing might be down the road, but I have a feeling someone will come up with a way of chemical computing just like nature does.
  • 0 Hide
    zodiacfml , January 20, 2011 11:05 PM
    at least they have plan against the Godzilla of electronics.
  • 0 Hide
    dragonsqrrl , January 20, 2011 11:15 PM
    "Nvidia's Tegra 2 and Samsung's Hummingbird chips, both of which are using 45-nm technology."

    I'm pretty sure the Tegra 2 is manufactured at 40 nm.
  • 1 Hide
    mikem_90 , January 20, 2011 11:17 PM
    bombat1994imagine a 14nm dual 6970.


    Simple designs scale down easier, but more complex ones are tricky. You can't just shrink a die and use the very same mask.

    Though it would be awesome cool for that. Might actually be workable in a laptop or phone.

    I think that IBM/ARM is pushing hard this way to keep Intel out of the mobile CPU biz, or at least in AMD's old shoes. Might be interesting to see how this develops.
  • 0 Hide
    bv90andy , January 20, 2011 11:22 PM
    Looking back at the history in this field, I am 100% sure that they will find a way past every barrier.

    Even if they won't be able to go further then 1,3,10 nm for a while, they will find ways of improving the manufacturing process and lowering the price so we'll be able to cope for a few more decades with multiple cores, and gpus, until quantum computers kick in.
  • 0 Hide
    loomis86 , January 20, 2011 11:27 PM
    accoliteWow 14nm that's crazy I thought the lowest they could go is 20nm then they wouldn't be able to control the flow of electrons!


    The neighborhood of 10 nm is the foreseeable limit at this point in time.
  • 1 Hide
    loomis86 , January 20, 2011 11:40 PM
    bv90andyLooking back at the history in this field, I am 100% sure that they will find a way past every barrier.Even if they won't be able to go further then 1,3,10 nm for a while, they will find ways of improving the manufacturing process and lowering the price so we'll be able to cope for a few more decades with multiple cores, and gpus, until quantum computers kick in.


    Quantum effects must be mastered before going smaller than 10nm. All bets are off regarding rate of progress for CPUs once 10nm is reached.

    Few more decades??? Hardly! Intel expects to achieve 11 nm in the year 2015. That is only 4 years away. After that there will be no more die shrink progress without amazing new science. I think we are about to see computer evolution take the form of fiber optics and chip consolidations(merging cpu/gpu, for instance) more common than die shrinks.
  • 0 Hide
    dalauder , January 20, 2011 11:41 PM
    Before Atomic or Chemical computing, we're gonna switch to graphite (carbon) because it can handle a lot more heat than silicon. Then we'll ramp up core speeds 5x.

    So if Sandy Bridge can do 5GHz on air just by switching to 32nm, then 5nm (assumed limit) should be able to do around 10GHz (8GHz to 15GHz is my guess)? Then Carbon will allow us to go near 40 to 75GHz on a 5nm process. So if we can get the carbon process down and just switch the silicon methods over to it (which is completely concievable in the next 15 years), then we'll be running octocore (I'm totally guessing overhead makes more than 8 threads impractical) processors at 50GHz. That should give us about a 40x boost over OC'd Sandy Bridge quad cores even if they were running multi-threaded apps (50GHz/5GHz*200%[Improvement per cycle efficiency]*2[8 cores vs 4]).

    The point being--we've got a lot of improvement in the conceivable future without switching to an as-yet-unknown manufacturing process.
  • 2 Hide
    lashton , January 20, 2011 11:45 PM
    joytech22I think that's for high-power devices, or IBM didn't hear about that lol.It's so strange that we're getting so close to the absolute minimum our manufacturing technology can reach, I think within the next 5-10 years we'll be seeing chips with circuitry created at the atomic level, if it isn't already done that way right now.

    No at 12nm you get electrons flowing through PNP gates aka electrons going bye bye into well nowhere
  • 1 Hide
    Travis Beane , January 21, 2011 12:44 AM
    I remember a handful of years ago someone stating 40nm was impossible.
    I'm so happy they're wrong. :) 

    We keep pumping billions of dollars with countless engineers. Maybe we will reach a limit soon, maybe we won't. For the time being, I'm more than satisfied just to know that they're trying.
  • 1 Hide
    jack_6 , January 21, 2011 1:14 AM
    thats insane , Being a Electrical and Electronic student at Manchester uni ive been told that when a device gets smaller the electrons can flow though a wall however giving ohmics points which prevents the electrons flowing though. however arent we forgetting graphine , graphine atoms thick but yet can be made into a semicondutor imagine that
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