ARM and TSMC have announced a new partnership that will see the companies collaborate on 7nm FinFET manufacturing process technology, with the goal of making it a viable reality in the next few years.
Shrinking process nodes is particularly important for ARM, as the company's main customers develop products for mobile, server, and other low power products. Stepping down to 7nm from 10nm or currently-used 14nm technology will likely provide significant power efficiency gains, which are particularly important for these sorts of devices.
Consumers can also expect to see much better performance from 7nm chips at the same level of power consumption as existing SoCs.
TSMC's 7nm FinFET technology is expected to begin mass silicon production in the first half of 2018, with the company stating that their "7nm technology development progress is on schedule". This means we could see 7nm chips hit the market towards the end of 2018 or the start of 2019.
The collaboration between ARM and TSMC could give the companies the tools required to beat Intel to deploying a new process node. By all reports, Intel has delayed 10nm technology to the later parts of 2017, and considering a typical two-to-three-year development cycle for new nodes, 7nm tech from the company mightn't be available until at least 2019.
7nm technology is still many years away, but over the next 12 to 18 months we can expect to see new chips built using TSMC's 10nm FinFET technology. Even now, we're still waiting for some key product segments (like discrete GPUs) to move from aging 28nm process tech down to 14nm.