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Old 05-08-2012, 02:00 AM
Brendan Hugo Brendan Hugo is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: California, USA
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Default TSMC's Cortex A9 chip can hit 3.1 GHz, but does anyone care?

Speed, speed, speed. These three words often dominate computing conversations. Be it a bragging contest over who's—sometimes imaginary—$3,000 gaming rig can push more pixels faster, or who's four-gee network will melt your brain more thoroughly, everybody loves talking about their numbers. TSMC is talking about its latest number, a 28nm mobile chip pushed over the big 3.0, or about twice as fast as any chip in production.

Actually, twice as fast might not be quite accurate. TSMC's 28HPM (High Performance for Mobile applications) chip has Twice as big of a number though, I'll grant them that. My question is thus: assuming this experimental processor were to make its way into a mobile device, would it actually do much, if anything, to aid in user-affected speed?

“At 3.1 GHz this 28HPM dual-core processor implementation is twice as fast as its counterpart at TSMC 40nm under the same operating conditions,” said Cliff Hou, TSMC Vice President, Research & Development. “This work demonstrates how ARM and TSMC can satisfy high performance market demands. With other implementation options, 28HPM is also highly suited for a wide range of markets that prize performance and power efficiency.”

“TSMC’s high performance 28HPM process is suitable for a wide range of advanced ARM-processor based applications, extending from high-frequency, performance-orientated computing devices to power sensitive applications,” said Jim Nicholas, Vice President of Marketing, Processor Division, ARM. “The collaboration between ARM, TSMC and our ecosystem partners has delivered an extensible implementation platform that enables flexibility in performance and power management tradeoffs for next generation products.”
A long time ago we started seeing major bottlenecks on PCs. CPUs started outpacing other hardware, most notably hard drives, and also software. To this day, in fact, the PC industry's ultra-high-end quad and six-core CPUs are underwhelmingly underutilized in all but a few very specific applications. I feel that mobile processing is rapidly hitting a similar point.

With the advent of the latest generation processors—Exynos 4, Tegra 3, Snapdragon S4—is there really all that much to be gained by pushing up GHz right now? I would say no. I think that mobile software, firmware, and supporting hardware has a long way to come before 3GHz is a meaningful mobile number. But don't let me do all the talking, what do you say? Would you be willing to buy a new phone, or perhaps pay an extra hundred or two to snag an extra 0.5GHz? How about an extra 1GHz?

[TSMC via Liliputing]
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