“Artemis” Is The First 10nm Chip Produced By ARM
ARM is about to receive its first TSMC manufactured 10nm FF test chip based on its yet-to-be-announced “Artemis” CPU core. According to ARM, tapeout of the 10nm test chip actually took place back in December last year and the chip should come back from the foundry in the following weeks.
TMSC’s 10nm FF is not well understood by analysts yet, but it is important to mention that 10nm is more of a marketing term then a full fledged drop to 10nm. Intel is yet to develop it’s 10nm chips and the company does not expect to start its production on 10nm chips until next year.
However, TMSC is releasing its version of 10nm chips later this year. We do not expect TMSC’s 10nm chips to compete with Intel’s 10nm chips in terms of geometries and electrical characteristics, but it will be a step further from its own 16nm chips.
ARM has a history of porting their architectures to new process nodes. However, the company is being a bit more aggressive. In the past, ARM would announce a new technology and that particular tech took up to 2 years to get introduced in the market. Now, it has announced its new tech and the time between the reveal and release has reduced to almost 9 months.
The test chips are not complex and there is a bigger chance that the chip will pass the initial tests. After that more complex chips are used for testing. There is no use sending a large and complex design on a new node and then having it not working and having no idea why.
The 10nm design starts around a core technology called Artemis, which essentially is a quad core module based on a unknown architecture. The core is attached to a single Mali GPU, these are connected by a simple AMBA AXI interconnect. The bridge acts as a I/O and memory sub system. Which is then connected to AHB interconnect and other system IP packages.
ARM is expecting a 12% increase in performance or speed while consuming the same amount of power as 16nm FFLL. According to ARM when the performance of Artemis is equal to 16nm then the power consumption will be 30% less.
This ARM 10nm FF will most likely be used in smartphones and tablets, and the extra power and efficiency will ensure better battery life.