IBM and ARM to collaborate on next-gen mobile chips

IBM and UK chip developer ARM are to extend their collaboration on advanced semiconductor technologies for the next generation of mobile devices

IBM and UK chip developer ARM are to extend their collaboration on advanced semiconductor technologies for the next generation of mobile devices.

The companies are to work on 14nm chips that will provide better power management, longer battery life and better multimedia support than existing chips.

Under the agreement, ARM and IBM will align their manufacturing, microprocessor and physical intellectual property design teams.

The companies said this latest collaboration would minimise the risk and barriers to migrating to smaller geometries, while enabling optimised density, performance, power and yield in advanced system-on-chip (SoC) designs.

"ARM's Cortex processors have become the leadership platform for the majority of smartphones and many other emerging mobile devices," said Michael Cadigan, general manager, IBM Microelectronics.

"We plan to continue working closely with ARM and our foundry customers to speed the momentum of ARM technology by delivering highly advanced, low-power semiconductor technology for a variety of new communications and computing devices," he added.

Simon Segars, executive vice president and general manager, ARM physical IP division, said IBM has a proven track record of delivering the core research and development that is relied upon by major semiconductor vendors worldwide for their advanced semiconductor devices.

"Its leadership of the International Semiconductor Development Alliance, which features a diverse set of top-tier companies as members, is growing in importance as consolidation trends in the semiconductor manufacturing industry continue, he said.

Collaboration between IBM and ARM on advanced geometries has been underway since 2008, resulting in the implementation of extensive process and physical IP refinements to improve SoC density, routability, manufacturability, power consumption and performance.

Through the previous collaboration on the 32nm and 28nm, ARM has already delivered 11 test chips that provide concrete research structures and early silicon validation.

The companies have given no indication of when the 14nm chips will go into production or start appearing in mobile devices.

In January, Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer revealed at the 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that the next version of Windows will be the first to run on ARM processors.

Microsoft also revealed that Windows 8 will support SoC architectures, including ARM-based systems from partners Nvidia, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments, as well as x86 systems from Intel and AMD.

"This announcement is really all about enabling a new class of hardware and new silicon partners for Windows, to bring the widest possible range of form factors to the market," Ballmer said.

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