TSMC has managed to rev a 28nm ARM Cortex-A9 dual-core test chip to 3.1GHz, under what the foundry describes as "typical conditions."
"At 3.1 GHz this 28HPM dual-core processor implementation is twice as fast as its counterpart at 40nm under the same operating conditions," explained TSMC exec Cliff Hou.
"This work demonstrates how ARM and TSMC can satisfy high performance market demands. With other implementation options, 28HPM (high performance for mobile applications) is also highly suited for a wide range of markets that prize performance and power efficiency."
According to Hou, the TSMC 28nm HPM process technology responsible for achieving 3.1GHz addresses applications that require both high speed and low leakage power.
"Using various design signoff conditions, ARM A9 at TSMC 28HPM delivers performance speed range from 1.5GHz to 2.0GHz, suitable for mobile computing, and up to 3.1GHz for high-performance uses," he said.
"With its wide performance-to-leakage coverage, the 28nm HPM process was developed for devices targeting networking, tablet and mobile consumer product applications."
As Mark Tyson of Hexus points out, while there are no indications of when, or if, the new 3.1GHz HPM Cortex-A9s will hit smartphones and tablets, the demonstration does illustrate the versatility and scalability of RISC-based ARM architecture.
"Only a couple of months ago another ARM partner, GlobalFoundries, announced they were making 2.5GHz Cortex-A9 processors under test conditions... TSMC's new test results seem to have shown them a clean pair of heels. No doubt we will have news of more Cortex-A9 speed leapfrogging while we await the launch of devices using the even more potent ARM Cortex-A15 chips," he added.