A couple months back, we heard that semiconductor manufacturer TSMC had hit a little snag in its attempts to fabricate chips using a newer 28-nanometer process, instead of the 40nm we’ve become familiar with in smartphone processors. It seems that, if the company did indeed hit a bump in the road, it’s quickly recovered, and today we’re hearing about some pretty impressive progress the company’s made with 28nm components, getting a dual-core A9 design running up above 3GHz.
Increased efficiency lets TSMC raise clock speeds higher than A9s built on a 40nm process can reliably handle. So far, it’s been able to get things running stably as high as 3.1GHz.
Now, we almost certainly won’t see smartphones or tablets running at that sort of speed anytime soon; we already have enough problems keeping our phones charged with chips running at half that speed, and even with the increased efficiency of the 28nm process, reaching 3GHz means feeding the chip more power. Things get a little more tenable down around 2GHz, though, and we could start seeing more A9-based designs running at about that level as processors with A15 cores take their sweet time in coming to market.