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TSMC 28HPM – Sweet Spot for Today’s Mobile SoCs

Comments(0)Filed under: future of IP, Jacek Duda, MIPI, Qualcomm, Cadence, M-PCIe, 2013, SSIC, USB3.0, SuperSpeed USB Inter-Chip, USB

Mobile is the only business besides PCs where actual SoCs get a lot of visibility in the eyes of the end customer. Does Joe Doe care what’s inside his MP3 player or car infotainment system? No, not as long as it’s doing its job. But when it comes to his smartphone or a tablet, his awareness of the chip inside is much higher.

It’s good for the business, because this awareness helps IP providers promote solutions that are little marvels of engineering and take time to develop. It keeps the business going, as we know the customers will ask for a next-gen solution in no more than a year.  This drives revenue growth, because nothing is worth more than a slight competitive edge that secures a big win in the market.

It’s also bad for the business, because only a few companies can keep up with the pace of this race. Also, the money involved is high, so you want to place your bets carefully. And last but not least, you’re developing technology that is silicon-proven by you and is production-proven also by you – this pressure does not help either.

Like it or not, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, and cheers to that, as this keeps us going. What developers need to make sure of is that they are choosing their silicon path wisely and that the available IP fits their tight design schedules.

According to TSMC, their 28nm technology “delivers twice the gate density of the 40nm process and also features an SRAM cell size shrink of 50 percent”. Moreover, the 28HPM process (High Performance Mobile) “can provide better speed than 28HP and similar leakage power as 28LP.”

Qualcomm, among several other fabless companies, is already aboard this node with its latest Snapdragon processors that are hitting the consumer market right now inside Samsung’s Galaxy S4 and Sony’s Xperia Z Ultra smartphones. It is only a matter of time until other companies announce the availability of SoCs in this node.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 - the latest device powered by the Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 in 28HPM
(Photo credit: Samsung)


Leading IP providers are now releasing more and more 28HPM targeted IP, with Cadence offering USB, DDR, and PCIe PHY IP for this node.  The maturity of tools and the fact it’s all been silicon-proven make it a safe bet for risk-averse customers.

Given all this information, what’s in it for an SoC developer? Basically, everything. It’s accepted by the major players in the mobile space, the tools and IP is there, and there are enough benefits of the technology to make the investment and see how it comes back with orders for chips.

And like with everything, there is always a certain timeframe for when it’s good to do something. With FinFET, or even 20nm just around the corner, the perfect time for a 28nm mobile SoC is now!


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