ARM Leading Intel In Process, Architecture And Design

In the wireless arena, ARM is ahead of Intel in process, architecture and design, and looks likely to stay there for a generation or two.

“ARM is at 28nm. Intel at 32nm,” Warren East, CEO of ARM, told me yesterday, “in process and design of the sub-system ARM is ahead. ARM has created a much more competitive offering than Intel. I’m not saying we’ll automatically stay ahead, but

if you look at the system level, with our Big-Little design concept their Little is roughly equivalent to our Big. That’s why I’m confident we’ll be ahead.”


Intel, of course has had 32nm running for a year or more whereas TSMC only moved its 28nm into volume production in Q4.


“Intel has 32nm available,” agreed East, “but they have to take it to an SOC chip design like Medfield. It’s taking a little longer.”


At the next generation – 20nm for TSMC, 22nm for Intel – TSMC has already taped out a 20nm Cortex A-15 and intends to have volume production on 20nm this year, whereas Intel says  it won’t be putting Atom on 22nm until 2013.


Asked if Intel’s delay seemed delinquent, East replied: “They’d love to have it sooner, but the type of device they’re going to build will be an SoC with a lot of IP. It takes time.”


At the earnings call following the Q4 results, East said: “As Intel are bringing their 32nm Medfield product to market, we’re seeing ARM 28nm products starting to ship. We’re seeing ARM engaged at 20nm, and we’re seeing ARM engaged at 14nm.


“And of course, there’s another whole dimension to this, which is delivering real solutions in a phone environment. And that’s what the ARM partnership has been doing for the last 15 years or so, and that’s what Intel is getting to grips with right now,” says East in the SeekingAlpha transcript of the call.


“ARM’s building on that lead, taking that system expertise that we’ve built up over the last 15 years or so and turning it into things like Big-Little which we announced back in October, where we have the benefits of high performance with a big processor married in a seamless way to the power efficiency of a small processor,” adds east.


“That sort of system-level solution is moving the goalposts significantly, so you end up with something that has the performance of a Cortex-A8, a smartphone of 2 or 3 years ago delivered in a power envelope that uses about 20% of the power. And so we’re continually moving those competitive goalposts.”



  1. I assume anyone reading these posts knows all that stuff, Rich. The point is that ARM/TSMC have a road map for wireless and it’s a more aggressive one than Intel’s.

  2. The headline is wrong. ARM is not leading Intel on process. ARM does not have a process. ARM is using TSMC’s process. ARM’s process capability and capacity is based on TSMC’s discretion.
    Let’s keep the headlines honest.

  3. Whether you date the invention of the industry from the invention of the transistor in 1947 or the invention of the IC in 1959, it’s a trifle adrift to describe Intel (founded 1968) as the industry’s inventor, Lefty

  4. Christ – whic PE company is whipping Warren?
    Intel invented the fecking industry!
    They have not crushed ARM because they have better things to do.
    Try not to draw attention to yourself ARM !

  5. All the facts about the timing of Atom on 32nm, 22nm and 14nm were confirmed by Intel, Mike, now look at the process timings of ARM/TSMC – there’s just no possible argument that the latter camp have a more aggressive schedule for putting wireless ICs, I repeat wireless ICs, on new nodes.

  6. Methinks another part of HMP need to be brought before the Leveson inquiry for a severe lack of accuracy in their reporting 🙂

  7. Her Majesty’s Press causing trouble? You should be horse-whipped young Selwood.

  8. Troublemaker

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