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Heads up, Intel: TSMC cranks up ARM chip to 3GHz

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company is pushing the power-sipping ARM chip design toward unfamiliar, high-performance territory.

Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
Brooke Crothers
ARM Cortex A9.
ARM Cortex A9. ARM

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company has ripped a page right out of the Intel playbook.

TSMC announced today that a chip rolling off its advanced 28-nanometer manufacturing process was jacked up to 3.1GHz -- unheard of in the annals of ARM-based mobile system reviews.

Intel, of course, is not a stranger to fast frequencies. Its high-performance Core i desktop processors run well more than 3GHz, and even its higher-end mobile parts are rated close to 3GHz.

But that's unfamiliar territory for ARM, which is known more for power efficiency than raw power.

More specifically, the TSMC chip is a dual-core A9 today that "achieved 3.1GHz...under typical conditions" using "high performance for mobile applications" (HPM) process technology, said TSMC.

TSMC's 28-nanometer HPM process was developed for tablet and mobile consumer product applications, among other products.

The chipmaker claims that it's twice as fast as an equivalent chip built on an older 40-nanometer manufacturing process. "This work demonstrates how ARM and TSMC can satisfy high performance market demands," said Cliff Hou, TSMC Vice President, Research & Development in a statement.

TSMC is the largest contract chip manufacturer in the world and builds many of the processors that land in the most popular smartphones and tablets.