updated 03:00 pm EDT, Mon September 29, 2008
ARM Common Platform
ARM, Chartered Semiconductor, IBM and Samsung today helped establish plans for the Common Platform, an alliance between the four companies determined to advance ARM-based processors. The group plans to use a combination of design work from all four companies as well as manufacturing from Chartered, IBM and Samsung to develop new ARM chips built on 32 nanometer and 28 nanometer manufacturing processes by using a high-k metal gate process.
Similar to the technique used in 45nm Intel processors, the change in material better manages heat and electricity leaks, and will allow Common Platform processors to increase in density and shrink in size without the penalties that usually come with such moves.
The alliance doesn't say when it expects the first Common Platform chips to enter production but does say it anticipates receiving new members in the "near future," although it declines to name any of these companies.
The breakthrough should result in faster and more efficient ARM processors, particularly in cellphones, portable media players and other handhelds where battery life and space are often very limited. Many cellphones use some variant of ARM's existing hardware, including the Samsung ARM chip in iPhones as well as numerous devices from HTC and Nokia.
It's unclear whether the technology will translate to Apple products. The California company's acquisition of PA Semiconductor is now known to have been made with the intent of developing custom iPhone CPUs based on ARM architecture and would accordingly reduce the need for support from the Common Platform.