LONDON – Processor IP licensor ARM Holdings plc and EDA software provider Synopsys Inc. has announced that have taped out the first Mali T658 graphics processor in a 20-nm manufacuturing process. The two companies said they would also work together to take Mali GPUs to smaller geometries.
The two companies did not indicate which company's 20-nm manufacturing process the design is aimed or whether the design would be manufactured, and if so, when it would exist.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd. (Hsinchu, Taiwan) is an obvious candidate for manufacture as that foundry is expected to ramp production of the 20-nm node during 2013 and the tape out for a test chip by ARM and Synopsys may have been announced to build confidence that the circuit can be manufactured. An alternative is Globalfoundries Inc. (Milpitas, Calif.) which has its own 20-nm bulk CMOS process.
The tape-out was produced using a combination of high-level Mali GPU IP, Artisan physical IP – both from ARM – and Synopsys EDA tools and IP cores. The EDA tools included Design Compiler synthesis, Formality formal verification, DFTMAX and TetraMAX test, IC Compiler for layout, StarRC extraction and PrimeTime timing analysis and signoff. The resulting RTL-through-sign-off design flow includes double-patterning support throughout, Synopsys said.
In addition, IC Validator In-Design capabilities for physical verification were used during the implementation process to speed design closure. The methodology also benefitted from the use of DC Explorer & Dataflow Analyzer to perform early exploration, especially of floorplans and macro placement, which is critical to GPU performance. Related links and articles:
ARM announces 8-way graphics core
Mali cores first to adopt new Khronos spec
ARM offers Mali graphics optimization pack