Never Mind 20nm Chips, 16nm Chips are 40% Faster, Use 50% Less Power and Could Launch Next Year

November 12, 2014 - Written By Nick Sutrich

It wasn’t very long ago that Samsung announced the world’s first 20nm mobile chipset, boasting increased power savings all while boosting speeds and overall efficiency by 25% over previous generation chipsets.  Apple’s newest A8 chipset also uses this process, and Qualcomm’s upcoming Snapdragon 808 and 810 chipsets are also built upon this 20nm base.  Now Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has announced its first successful risk production of the world’s first 16nm mobile chipset.  TSMC’s 20nm process was a success and it was able to quickly move down to the next step in line faster than anticipated as initial tests on the new process are looking good.

TSMC says this new process is 40% faster than the current 20nm chipsets while at the same time using 50% less power than those same chipsets.  Moore’s Law is in full effect here as chipsets continue to increase their transistor count and therefore processing performance all while dropping the power requirements because of the smaller, more efficient architectures.  In testing TSMC has determined that the 16nm process fully provides the means to produce advanced SoC designs like ARM’s big.LITTLE architecture in which a faster processor is paired with a slower processor to create a hybrid that works for best power savings overall.  Right now ARM’s testing has proven that it can ramp these new chipsets up to 2.3GHz on the “big” Cortex-A57 side of things, and gets as low as consuming only 75 milliwatts of power on the “LITTLE” Cortex-A53 side.

The new process is deemed 16FF+ and looks to pass full reliability qualifications at the end of this month, with companies like Huawei ready to jump on board with new chipsets as soon as these are done.  The likelihood in seeing these any sooner than the end of 2015 isn’t very high, but once these make their way into our devices by that time things will really be speeding up!