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Tuesday, 02 April 2013 14:07

ARM and TSMC tape out first Cortex A57 chip

Written by Peter Scott

64 bits of 16nm FinFET fun

ARM and TSMC have taped out the first Cortex A57 processor based on ARM’s next-gen 64-bit ARMv8 architecture.

The all new chip was fabricated on TSMC’s equally new FinFET 16nm process. The 57 is ARM’s fastest chip to date and it will go after high end tablets, and eventually it will find its place in some PCs and servers as well.

Furthermore the A57 can be coupled with frugal Cortex A53 cores in a big.LITTLE configuration. This should allow it to deliver relatively low power consumption, which is a must for tablets and smartphones. However, bear in mind that A15 cores are only now showing up in consumer products, so it might be a while before we see any devices based on the A57.

In terms of performance, ARM claims the A57 can deliver a “full laptop experience,” even when used in a smartphone connected to a screen, keyboard and mouse wirelessly. It is said to be more power efficient than the A15 and browser performance should be doubled on the A57.

It is still unclear when we’ll get to see the first A57 devices, but it seems highly unlikely that any of them will show up this year. Our best bet is mid-2014, and we are incorrigible optimists. The next big step in ARM evolution will be 20nm A15 cores with next-generation graphics, and they sound pretty exciting as well.

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