ARM TechCon 2011 started off as a TSMC and Cadence show. The three day event offers over 95 classroom sessions. The first day exhibit floor crowd seemed to be smaller than in years past. Last year, the event drew over 2,500 total attendees from 52 countries. Everywhere you turn there are large signs letting you know where things are located.

ARM TechCon 2011 Entrance
ARM TechCon 2011 Entrance

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) was rumored to have a demonstration of their 20nm Cortex-A15 test chip. TSMC says their 20nm process provides more than a two times performance increase over preceding generations.

The ARM 20nm node sample will be at the other exhibit floor, which opens the second day – the crowd seemed underwhelmed with TechCon?sfirst day exhibit organization this year. Could be that the partners in the ARM ecosystem aren’t too thrilled about the company.

Unlike 2010, TechCon 2011 doesn't look too crowded
Unlike 2010, TechCon 2011 doesn’t look too crowded

Tuesday morning?s keynote speech by Shang-Yi Chiang, senior vice president of R&D at TSMC got everyone?s attention when he outlined using FinFETs for the next decade, down to the 7nm node.

Shang-Yi Chiang, Senior Vice President of R&D of TSMCChiang said: "From node to node, we have found the wafer price has increased much more than previous nodes."

Cadence VP Chi-Ping Hsu, also acknowledged the dramatic cost increases associated with moving from the 32/28nm node to the 22/20nm node. The amount of money invested by the semiconductor industry in process R&D, for instance, jumped from $1.2 billion at 32/28 to between $2.1 billion and $3 billion at 22/20, Hsu said. Design costs for a chip jump from $50 million to $90 million at 32nm to $120 million to $500 million at 22nm.

Hsu talked about the EDA 360 analysis which shows that at the 32nm node, a chip needs to sell about 30 to 40 million units to recoup the costs associated with it. Hsu said at the 20nm node, the "breakeven" point jumps to between 60 and 100 million units.

Everyone who is an All Access registrant for ARM?s TechCon 2011 received the ViewSonic gTablet with the ARM TechCon application pre-loaded on the tablet as a part of their All-Access pass.

Viewsonic gTablet

Specs are:

  • 1 GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 – Dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 CPU
  • 10.1 inch TFT-LCD – 1024×600 resolution
  • 512MB DDR2 memory
  • microSD card
  • 2D/3D Graphics processing
  • HD Video encode and decode
  • Ultra-low power GeForce GPU
  • 1080p video playback processor
  • OpenGL ES 2.0
  • 32-bit LP-DDR2
  • Wi-Fi : 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
  • 3650mAh Li-ion polymer battery
  • Weight: 1.55 lbs.

Conspicuously absent from the design side of the exhibit floor was GlobalFoundries. However, there was a booth for the Common Platform Alliance which they are a aligned with.

GlobalFoundries was only present through a modest Common Platform Alliance booth

GlobalFoundries was only present through a modest Common Platform Alliance booth