ARM and GlobalFoundries announce super chip

As if Apple developing its own silicon wasn’t enough, Intel’s Atom chip took a further beating today when ARM and Global Foundries announced the development of a new 28nm mobile super-chip.

The new system-on-a-chip is based on ARM’s acclaimed Cortex A9 processor, which also forms the backbone of Nvidia’s new Tegra 2 platform. Meanwhile, AMD’s former fabrication wing, Global Foundries, is manufacturing the chip using its new 28nm High-K Metal Gate process.

The move to smaller transistors that take less time to switch appears to have made a dramatic impact on the chip’s power consumption and performance. In fact, the two companies claim that the new chip can offer up to a 40 per cent performance increase compared with a 45nm equivalent, without affecting the thermal design power (TDP). Not only that, but the two companies also predicts a 30 per cent drop in power consumption, leading to up to a 100 per cent increase in standby battery life.

Global Foundries is using two different 28nm fabrication processes to manufacture the chips. A super low power (SLP) version will be for mobile devices, while a high performance (HP) version will be available for “applications requiring maximum performance.” The techie twosome hopes that the chip will be used in a wide variety of devices, including “smartphones, smartbooks and tablets.”

Global Foundries’ CEO, Chia Song Hwee, said, "The success of the next generation of mobile products will be increasingly dependent on their ability to deliver PC-class performance, a highly-integrated rich-media experience and longer battery life," implying that these new mobile devices may be able to offer enough power for general computing tasks without too much waiting around.

Production of the new chip is scheduled to kick off in at Global Foundries’ Dresden fab in the second half of this year, and ARM says that it will also be showcasing the first 28nm High-K Metal Gate wafer later at Mobile World Congress. All we need now is a cut-down, ARM-compatible version of Windows 7.