TSMC Announces New Ultra Low-Power Platform for the Internet of Things

By Arusanov (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Arusanov (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, Limited or TSMC, the world’s biggest independent semiconductor foundry, introduces a new platform for the Internet of Things (IoT) and wearable devices. In a press release, TSMC presented details about its comprehensive ultra-low power technology platform for IoT and wearables, providing a wide range of technologies to facilitate interconnectivity, power reduction benefits, and support for multiple processes. This platform is expected to provide a comprehensive design ecosystem that fast-tracks time-to-market for customers.

First Time in the Industry

In the press release, Dr. Mark Liu, President and co-CEO of TSMC, was quoted to have said that “this is the first time in the industry that we offer a comprehensive platform to meet the demands and innovation for the versatile Internet of Things market where ultra-low power and ubiquitous connectivity are most critical.” TSMC is in an ideal position to have a hand in shaping the progress of the IoT and wearables market. This move could only be viewed as something advantageous for the industry in general.

Ultra-Low Power

This new platform is an addition to the company’s already existing 16-nanometer FinFET technology and the 0.18-micron low leakage (0.18eLL) and 90-nanometer ultra low leakage (90uL) nodes. The additions have the following attributes:

  • 55-nanometer ultra-low power (55ULP), 40ULP, and 28ULP nodes capable of supporting up to 1.2GHz in processing speed
  • These can process from 0.18-micron to 16-nanometer FinFET, suitable for various smart and power-efficient applications used in the Internet of Things and wearables.
  • The 0.18-micron to 40-nanometer ultra-low power technologies included in the platform also come with Flash memory capabilities, which makes it possible to achieve system level integration for diminutive form factors.

According to TSMC, the new ultra-low power processes can cut operating voltages by 20% to 30%. they can reduce both active and standby power consumption, bringing an increase in battery life by two to ten times. Low power consumption is a vital factor in the Internet of Things. It is even considered as the “number one priority for the Internet of Things” by Martin Lund, senior vice president and general manager of the IP Group at Cadence.

By Wilgengebroed on Flickr [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Wilgengebroed on Flickr [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Advantages of TSMC’s Platform

Aside from the ultra-low power nature of the comprehensive IoT and wearables platform of TSMC, one very important advantage it offers is the ability to leverage TSMC’s existing intellectual property (IP) ecosystem through the Open Innovation Platform. With it, designers can easily reuse IPs and libraries developed on TSMC’s low power processes for their new ultra-low power designs. This can help increase first-silicon success rates and enable fast time-to-market product introduction.

Also, as mentioned earlier, since the platform supports the integration of flash memory and wireless radios, it can enable more efficient high performance products. According to ARM’s Physical Design Group executive vice president and general manager, Dr. Dipesh Patel, “Through a collaborative partnership that leverages the energy-efficient ARM Cortex-M and Cortex-A CPUs and TSMC’s new process technology platform, we can collectively deliver the ingredients for innovation that will drive the next wave of IoT, wearable, and other connected technologies.”

Industry Reaction

TSMC’s announcement comes with a number of positive reactions from a number of companies that particularly laud TSMC’s ultra-low power technology. Among those who expressed affirmative and validating statements are Joep van Beurden, the CEO of CSR; Tom Miyake, Corporate Vice President at System LSI Company of Fujitsu Semiconductor Limited; Svenn-Tore Larsen, CEO of Nordic Semiconductor; Yee-Wei Huang, Vice President and Spokesman of Realtek; Tyson Tuttle, CEO of Silicon Labs; and John Koeter, Vice President of Marketing for IP and Prototyping at Synopsys. The aforementioned companies have worked or have been working with TSMC in producing various technologies that reach consumers in different parts of the world.

By Epop (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Epop (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

TSMC’s Internet of Things and wearables platform is doubtlessly a great step for the advancement of the IoT and wearables market. It brings the Internet of Things and web access closer to more people worldwide. If it integrates or makes use of the ant-sized radio technology we wrote about in an earlier post, it may facilitate an even more rapid advancement in the Internet of Things and wearables market.