Moore's Law lives on with speedy 7-nm mobile chips coming in 2018

ARM is equipping TSMC to manufacture faster and more power-efficient chips

How do mobile devices keep get faster, thinner, and more power efficient? It's thanks to the quick advances in chip manufacturing, which help churn out smaller chips packed with new features.

The next round of premium smartphones early next year could feature chips like Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835, made using the latest, 10-nanometer process.

Continuing with the famous Moore's Law observation, it's likely that two years after that, smartphones will get even faster and smaller chips will be made using a 7-nanometer process.

On Monday, ARM, with its chip designs in most smartphones, said it is working with prominent chip manufacturer TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.) to make 7-nm chips. ARM shared intellectual property for its 7-nm designs, allowing chips to be designed for manufacturing in TSMC's factories.

The manufacturing of chips on TSMC's 7-nm process is expected to start in 2018, said Ron Moore, vice president of marketing for ARM's physical design group.

In ARM's trials, the 7-nm chips will provide a 15 to 20 percent speed boost compared to chips made using TSMC's 16-nm process. Smartphone chip makers could tweak the architecture to bring even better performance to the chips.

ARM-based chips for servers and IoT devices will also be made on the 7-nm process. Ultimately, only the chipmakers using ARM designs will be able to provide metrics on performance improvements based on the tweaks they made, Moore said.

Applications like virtual reality and machine learning are demanding more performance out of chips. The ARM manufacturing IP provided to TSMC solves some challenges around memory, power distribution, and moving data in and out of memory.

For example, many customers are planning multi-GPU configurations for servers in the cloud or for machine-learning infrastructures. The chip IP provides data path optimizations so data can travel quickly within these infrastructures and at the right power consumption levels.

Many advances are expected on the 7-nm process, including EUV (extreme ultraviolet) that allows for finer details to be etched on chips. Chips designed with the ARM's IP won't require designers to have deep knowledge about the underlying manufacturing technologies, Moore said.

TSMC rival Globalfoundries is also moving to the 7-nm process, and production could start in 2018. Samsung hasn't publicly talked about its 7-nm plans. Intel says it has "visibility" of 7-nm, meaning it is on the company's roadmap, but hasn't talked about when it will be implemented.

The next step beyond 7-nm is the 5-nm process, which will be discussed at the International Electron Devices Meeting next week in San Francisco. Participants will also discuss silicon replacement materials. Samsung will discuss the merits of silicon germanium, and participants will also examine other exotic materials.

Intel is already planning to use III-V materials, based on elements from the third and fifth columns of the periodic table, like gallium-arsenide, in forthcoming chips. Gallium arsenide is a better electricity conductor than silicon, and it could add to the power efficiency of chips.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Agam Shah

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?