It’s been a long way since gigahertz were the best way to measure computer processor performance. There are a lot of other factors that help determine how well a CPU will be able to perform a task.

But that hasn’t stopped chip foundry TSMC from announcing that its new ARM Cortex-A9 dual core processor can hit clock speeds of 3.1 GHz… and it hasn’t quite stopped me from being impressed.

While 3 GHz and faster chips are old hat for x86-based processors from Intel and AMD, this is one of the first ARM-based chips I’ve heard of that can run at that speed.


Overall TSMC expects most mobile devices using its chips to run between 1.5 GHz and 2.0 GHz. But for devices where high performance is more important than long battery life, the chip can run at faster speeds.

The processors are manufactured using a 28nm high-K metal gate process and TSMC says the chips run twice as fast as the company’s 40nm processors.

via Netbook

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2 replies on “TSMC’s ARM chips hit top speeds over 3 GHz”

    1. That graph only represents the number of players involved and approximate total capital available to each side.

      However, it doesn’t factor that the ARM companies are also competing against each other and not just against Intel.

      ARM is a more fragmented hardware platform, it helps it serve a wide range of device needs, and helped it evolve rapidly, but means it can be harder to support them than it would be Intel. Along with the fact Intel is more likely to make devices that will support legacy apps than ARM.

      While not all of the manufacturers on ARM’s side are on equal footing with Intel. So even with equivalent capital (700 divided by 5 is 140, same as what the graph listed for Intel)

      TSMC, especially, has been in the news a lot recently as having a series of problems. While the others are still having enough problems with 28nm FAB that some companies are looking to supplementing orders with the other ARM manufacturers to compensate for the lower than expected yields.

      So the graph doesn’t fully represent what’s going on, but that said a 3.1 GHz Cortex A9 is a pretty good achievement but it’s still a question of power efficiency and thermal range at that high clock speed as to whether it’ll be really useful in the usual ARM markets. Though it may be something they’re planning for the server market.

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