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Samsung announces 'milestone' in development of 14nm process

Samsung has announced a "milestone" in its development of 14nanometre process technology for semiconductor manufacturing and also said it has signed an agreement with ARM to share 14nm physical IP and libraries.

The South Korean technology giant has achieved a "successful tape out of multiple development vehicles" for its 14nm process, Samsung said in a statement. The company is collaborating with "key design and IP partners" like ARM in pursuing 14nm process technology, the successor to current 22nm processes used to manufacture chips used for PCs, servers, mobile devices, embedded systems, and other computational hardware.

Samsung emphasised that getting to the 14nm process node would confer major advantages to future-generation System-on-a-Chip (SoC) devices used in smartphones, tablets, and other consumer electronics products.

"As we move closer to true mobile computing, chip designers are eager to take advantage of the gains in performance and significantly lower power of 14nm FinFET to deliver PC-like user experience in a mobile device," Samsung senior vice president Kyumyung Choi said in a statement.

"The design complexities of 14nm require complete harmony between the process technology, design methodology, tools, and IPs. We are synchronizing all the key elements so our customers can deliver their newest chips to market quickly and efficiently."

Samsung manufactures ARM-based application processors for its own Android smartphones and tablets as well as for competing products like Apple's iPhone and iPad. Though ARM is currently the dominant design architecture used in mobile device SoCs, Samsung and its UK-based partner are under pressure to keep up with Intel in advancing to smaller process nodes to avoid allowing the x86 architecture to gain significant advantages in terms of performance and power draw - which if unchecked, could be the formula Intel needs to finally get some traction in mobile.

Samsung, ARM, and additional ecosystem partners Cadence, Mentor, and Synopsys recently taped out a "full ARM Cortex-A7 processor" as well as a number of other test chips using the 14nm process. Samsung called the Cortex-A7 tape-out "a significant milestone for silicon manufacturing for the fabless ecosystem."

The partners have also made a 14nm process design kit (PDK) available to fabless chip design companies that license ARM designs. The PDK "includes design flows, routers and other design enablement features to support new device structures, local interconnects, and advanced routing rules," Samsung said.