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ARM Cortex-A57 taped out: triple the performance with the same battery life

ARM and TSMC have issued a press released stating that the new Cortex-A57 chip has reached the "tape out" stage and is now ready for mass production.
April 2, 2013
ARM big.little Cortex-a57/a53

If you weren’t overly impressed by the ARM Cortex-A15 powered Exynos 5 Octa benchmark that we posted the other day, I have some good news for you hardware enthusiasts. ARM and manufacturer TSMC have issued a joint press release stating that the new Coretex-A57 chip has reached the “tape out” stage.

What this means is that the Cortex-A57 is technically ready to begin production trials, and, impressively, it’s only taken six months to go from design to having the chip ready for production.

The Cortex A57 is supposedly heading for use in ARM’s next Big.LITTLE processor, and will be accompanied by a low power, efficient Cortex-A53 CPU. So we could be waiting on the other Cortex chip before we see any SoCs actually roll off the production belt.

The press release also details some of the performance improvements we can expect from the new Cortex-A57. ARM suggests that its new chip can offer up to triple the performance of the current top of the line Cortex-A15 for the same amount of battery consumption. The new Cortex-A57 will also offer five times the amount of battery life when running at the same speed as ARM’s current chips, which is excellent news for us smartphone owners.

So whilst it’s all looking good for ARM’s next generation of mobile processors, we still don’t have an expected arrival date for any handsets or tablets utilizing this new processor. In fact we are still waiting on a timetable for the A53/A57 big.LITTLE chips as well. But I’m optimistic that, when an A57 powered SoC finally hits the market, we’ll see the benchmarks shattered yet again.

ARM and TSMC Tape Out First ARM Cortex-A57 Processor on TSMC’s 16nm FinFET Technology

Hsinchu, Taiwan and Cambridge, UK – April 2, 2013 – ARM and TSMC (TWSE: 2330, NYSE: TSM) today announced the first tape-out of an ARM® Cortex™-A57 processor on FinFET process technology. The Cortex-A57 processor is ARM’s highest performing processor, designed to further extend the capabilities of future mobile and enterprise computing, including compute intensive applications such as high-end computer, tablet and server products. This is the first milestone in the collaboration between ARM and TSMC to jointly optimize the 64-bit ARMv8 processor series on TSMC FinFET process technologies. The two companies cooperated in the implementation from RTL to tape-out in six months using ARM Artisan® physical IP, TSMC memory macros, and EDA technologies enabled by TSMC’s Open Innovation Platform® (OIP) design ecosystem.

ARM and TSMC’s collaboration produces optimized, power-efficient Cortex-A57 processors and libraries to support early customer implementations on 16nm FinFET for high-performance, ARM technology-based SoCs.

“This first ARM Cortex-A57 processor implementation paves the way for our mutual customers to leverage the performance and power efficiency of 16nm FinFET technology,” said Tom Cronk, executive vice president and general manager, Processor Division, ARM. “The joint effort of ARM, TSMC, and TSMC’s OIP design ecosystem partners demonstrates the strong commitment to provide industry-leading technology for customer designs to benefit from our latest 64-bit ARMv8 architecture, big.LITTLE™ processing and ARM POP™ IP across a wide variety of market segments.”

“Our multi-year, multi-node collaboration with ARM continues to deliver advanced technologies to enable market-leading SoCs across mobile, server, and enterprise infrastructure applications,” said Dr. Cliff Hou, TSMC Vice President of R&D. “This achievement demonstrates that the next-generation ARMv8 processor is FinFET-ready for TSMC’s advanced technology.”

This announcement highlights the enhanced and intensified collaboration between ARM and TSMC. The test chip was implemented using a commercially available 16nm FinFET tool chain and design services provided by the OIP ecosystem and ARM Connected Community partners. This successful collaborative milestone is confirmation of the roles that TSMC’s OIP and ARM’s Connected Community play in promoting innovation for the semiconductor design industry.