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ARM shows off 32nm mobile processor

ARM's 32nm processors displayed at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona promise cheaper, more powerful smartphones
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

ARM has announced and demonstrated its first Cortex processor based on IBM's 32nm high-k metal-gate technology. Full production is expected in early 2010, the company said, bringing lower power consumption and more features.

The demonstration processor was displayed at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Monday. According to ARM, the mobile-chip architecture firm's partners are poised to start work on designs using the technology.

"We got back the first test die literally three days ago," James Bruce, from ARM's mobile-solutions marketing department, told ZDNet UK at the show. "Our partners are probably starting their initial designs with the 32nm technology right now."

The chip combines ARM's Cortex processor designs with Physical IP prototype libraries, which ARM bought in by acquiring Artisan Components in 2004, and the test chip is based on IBM's Common Platform.

According to Bruce, the first system-on-a-chip products using the 32nm technology will appear next year. Explaining the advantages of the technology, he said a slight improvement in power consumption would be apparent, compared with current mobile-chip designs.

"The power consumption goes down probably by five to 10 percent on the overall system, which helps," Bruce said. "But you also get higher integration — you can get more transistors onto one chip, so you can put more high-performance parts on there."

"You can do more, or improve — for instance get better graphics," Bruce explained. "You can also take what's high-end today and drive that down to the mass market tomorrow."

Also on Monday, ARM announced that 10 billion mobile-phone processors using its architecture had now been shipped.

According to the company, the average mobile phone shipped in 2008 used two ARM-based processors, with some smartphones using as many as four or five.


ARM 32nm die

ARM predicts that its new 32nm technology will result in products sometime in 2010
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