updated 11:55 pm EDT, Tue October 18, 2011
ARM and TSMC get test samples of Cortex-A15
ARM and its frequent hardware partner TSMC said they had managed the first tape out, or working production samples, of the Cortex-A15 processor. The chip runs on a very dense 20 nanometer process and was produced just half a year after the basic design was ready. All the factory tools were those that could be found in an actual factory, the two said.
The A15 is a multi-core design and will most often arrive in dual- and quad-core forms for smartphones and tablets. In extreme forms, it will even extend to 16-core processors and 2.5GHz for very low-power servers and desktops. Most, at first, are more likely to clock in under 2GHz.
Tape out is still a significant distance from a shipping product and requires both wider test samples as well as full-scale production that won't start until sometime in 2012. Neither of the partners named their customers.
Apple may be one of the earlier customers for the A15. The company has been widely rumored as chatting with TSMC to help make the A6 and eventually the A7. Most tips have commonly pointed to the A6 using a 28nm process and suggest that the A15 may not show until later in 2012 or 2013.