TSMC and GlobalFoundries are expected to have 20nm mobile chip production in 2014 and this should align with the next generation of ARM based mobile processors. At the moment 2.3GHz is currently the limit 28nm and Snapdragon 800 and Tegra 4i (Grey) that is set to come in late 2013 or early 2014 both stop at this magical clock.
In order to surpass this number there is a big indication that companies will have to go for a smaller manufacturing node such as 20nm. At 20nm TSMC promises 30 percent higher speed and 1.9 times better density at 25 percent less power. The 30 percent faster will get ARM SoCs to around 3GHz with significantly more transistors that will mostly be spent on graphics. This is most likely how Nvidia plans to put the Kepler core on a Logan processor but we don’t have this confirmed, it just makes sense.
The 25 percent reduction in power consumption can be translated into a 25 percent better battery life boost with next generation SoCs. Since poor battery life is still one of the top complaints when it comes to smartphones, consumers should look forward to 20nm.
This will make the ARM alliance more competitive and ready to face the x86 threat coming from Intel and AMD, especially in the tablet and convertible space, but we are confident that Intel is not sleeping. If all goes well toward the end of 2014 Intel is going to get to 14nm Atoms, and AMD has a chance to get to the same transistor size with GlobalFoundries that has promised 14nm in the 2014.