Samsung tapes out first 20nm processor

First 20nm chip is a test processor based on ARM’s architecture

Samsung Foundry, a subsidiary of Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (SEO:005930) is currently testing its entire 20nm process flow and has just taped out a complete test processor that is based on an ARM Cortex-M0 processor that has been combined with ARM Artisan prototype libraries (both 12-track high performance and 9-track high density versions), custom memories, GPIO, and test structures.

The process is using the usual SOI, but also High-k metal gates.

According to the press release Samsung deployed the unified digital flow – RTL to GDSII – from Cadence Design Systems. The flow addresses the requirements of advanced 20nm design, such as IP integration and validation, and complex new design rules. Samsung used the Cadence Encounter Digital Implementation System, RTL Compiler, Incisive Enterprise Simulator, QRC Extraction, Encounter Timing System, Encounter Power System, Encounter Test and Physical Verification System. The Cadence NanoRoute Router was also used for 20nm advanced digital routing.  The future of smaller processors is going to, more and more, depend upon quality tools.

Samsung has Apple as its largest customer and is doing its best to hold onto Apple, while Apple is actively qualifying TSMC as another supplier.  Rumors in the market have it that Apple is extremely satisfied with the output from Samsung foundry, but not with the fact that Samsung is manufacturing consumer products that compete with Apple.  There is also the little problem of capacity for the massive market share Apple has gained.S|A

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