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IBM and Samsung partner on low-power CPU research

IBM and Samsung have announced that they are to partner up on a new project aimed at developing new materials, processes, and technologies for low-power semiconductors.

While terms of the partnership haven't been revealed, the companies have stated that they will be specifically focusing on low-power semiconductor technology for smartphones and communications systems, based on a 20nm manufacturing process.

The two companies already held a joint development agreement based on rolling out the 20nm process technology, but the new deal provides a focus for that research - and possibly indicates a desire to compete head-on with British low-power chip designer ARM, which currently commands the vast majority of the smartphone market with its RISC-based CPUs.

The research will take place at the Albany Nanotech Complex in New York, where scientists and engineers will investigate new materials and manufacturing processes that can overcome the problems related to shrinking the process size to 20nm - a move that makes the chip faster and less power-hungry, but which also introduces major complexities into the design process that are difficult and expensive to solve with current semiconductor manufacturing technologies.

With Samsung already producing its own range of ARM-licensed low-power CPUs, it's clear that the company is planning ahead for the increasingly RISC-tinted future.