Arm shows faster, power-efficient mobile chip

Arm says the processor made using 28-nm will increase performance, battery life and talk time of smartphones

Chip designer Arm this week showed its first processor made using the advanced 28-nanometer manufacturing process, which should improve battery life and functionality in future smartphones.

The mobile chip will be smaller than its predecessor, which could make it work faster and use less power, Arm said in a joint statement with GlobalFoundries, which will produce the chip. It will bring advanced features like interactive gaming and high-definition video to devices like smartphones and netbooks.

The chip was shown at the 2010 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week. It will go into production in the second half of 2010 in the GlobalFoundries factory in Dresden, Germany.

The new chip will enable longer talk times and close to double the standby time of Arm's previous mobile chip. It will provide a 40 percent increase in computing performance while drawing 30 percent less power compared to existing Arm-based processors manufactured using the 40-nanometer manufacturing process. The chip could also be used in low-cost laptops and other devices like tablets, said Arm and GlobalFoundries.

The chip will be based on Arm's Cortex-A9 design, which is used by companies like Nvidia. Nvidia offers the dual-core Tegra 2 chip for devices like low-cost laptops and tablets. Arm also said it would extend the intellectual property around the 28-nanometer process design to other partners including IBM.

Arm was not available for comment on when devices based on the chip would become available. Depending on the licensee, the most advanced chips with Arm processors are made using the 40-nm or 45-nm processes.

GlobalFoundries, which was spun off from Advanced Micro Devices last year, said it would offer production of chips based on Arm licenses to customers. The fab company lists more than 150 customers, including STMicroelectronics, Qualcomm and IBM. The 28-nm process gives Arm an advantage over Intel, whose most advanced chips are made using the 32-nm process.

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Agam Shah

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