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Samsung claims first ever 20nm ARM-based CPU

The South Korean giant produces its first 20nm ARM chip, but has yet to announce large-scale operations using the new technology

South Korean conglomerate Samsung has announced that it has successfully fabricated an ARM-based test chip under the 20nm fabrication process. The chip features an ARM Cortex-M0 design that, according to Electronista, is ARM’s smallest and most energy-efficient CPU yet.

In order to produce system-on-chips (SoCs) at this level, Samsung employed a host a new technologies for the process. According to XbitLabs, the 20nm procedure made use of the 2nd generation high-K metal gate (HKMG) technology, 5th generation strained silicon wafers, 2nd generation ultra-low k dielectrics and other innovations in between to maximize yield and reliability of the final chips.

The design methodology, tools and IPs used on this 20nm test chip bring together the most advanced technology from our design infrastructure partners together with Samsung process and design technology to solve critical design challenges so our customers can deliver their latest chips to market quickly and efficiently,” said Samsung vice president of LSI infrastructure Kyu-Myung Choi. The process is still in its infant stage, and may not be ready for prime time mass production.

The Samsung-designed 20nm procedure is reportedly available as a PDK to aid manufacturers who are currently designing their next generation products, says XbitLabs. It may be a few years, however, before the public can get a hold of products running on a 20nm ARM CPU.


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Allen Ngo, 2011-07-14 (Update: 2012-05-26)