Another announcement of interest, given all the discussion of Intel’s 22nm process around here, is that Samsung (along with ARM, Cadence and Synopsys) announced that they have taped out a 20nm ARM test-chip (using a Synopsys/Cadence flow).
An interesting wrinkle is that at 32nm and 28nm they used a gate-first process but that for 20nm they have switched to gate-last. Of course taping out a chip is different from having manufactured one and got it to yield well. There have been numerous problems with many of the novel process steps in technology nodes below 30nm.
The chip contains an ARM Cortex-M0 along with custom memories and, obviously, various test structures.
It is interesting to look at Intel vs Samsung’s semiconductor revenues (thanks Nitin!). In 2010 Intel was at $40B and Samsung was at $28B. But Samsung grew at 60% versus “only” 25% for Intel. Another couple of years of that an Samsung will take Intel’s crown as #1 semiconductor manufacturer.
As I’ve said before, Intel needs to get products in the fast-growing mobile markets, and I’m still not convinced that Atom’s advantages (Windows compatibility) really matter. Of course Intel’s process may be enough to make it competitive but that depends on whether Intel’s wafers are cheap enough.