ARM aims to make TSMC the Fab of choice for their customers

Subject: General Tech | April 16, 2012 - 01:47 PM |
Tagged: arm, TSMC, fab, cortex a15, cortex-a9, 28nm, 40nm

ARM has developed some optimizations for their chips, provided that the customer purchasing them uses TSMC to fabricate them.  ARM has licensed a large variety of fabrication companies to produce their chips but with their familiarity with TSMC's 28nm and 40nm processes they have been able to introduce performance enhancing optimizations specific to TSMC.  It could taste a bit like favouritism but is much more likely to stem from the volume of TSMC's production as well as the maturity of the 40nm process node.  The 28nm node could be a bit of a problem for ARM as we have seen that TSMC is not having an easy time producing enough good dies for their customers; this is why you cannot buy a GTX 680.  As The Inquirer points out, if ARM wants to make sure their customers can get their hands on reasonable volumes of chips, they will want to create optimizations specific to other manufacturers sooner rather than later.

arm-cortex-a15.jpg

"CHIP DESIGNER ARM has released a slew of optimisation packs for Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company's (TSMC) 28nm and 40nm process nodes.

ARM, which licenses designs to many chip designers, including Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, Nvidia and Samsung, has given TSMC a boost by offering processor optimisation packs for the firm's 28nm and 40nm process nodes. ARM claims the optimisation packs for its Cortex-A5, Cortex-A7, Cortex-A9 and Cortex-A15 processor cores help designers make use of TSMC's process node nuances to get the most out of their designs."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Inquirer

Intel becomes a 22nm foundry -- no, not for NVIDIA.

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | March 25, 2012 - 08:42 PM |
Tagged: TSMC, nvidia, Intel

NVIDIA would like Intel to be their fab partner for ARM processors. Turns out NVIDIA-produced ARM products are not tempting to Intel.

Last month we reported that Intel would open up their fabrication plants to contracts from other companies. We stated that the world would likely end if Intel were to ever produce products from NVIDIA. It turns out that the world is safe.

intel-cmon-not-you.png

Turn out the lights, pretend we’re not home.

Intel is far and away the most advanced semiconductor fabricators in the world and many companies would love to have their components created in their factories. Intel is very aware of how sophisticated their technique is relative to their competitors and exercises that advantage.

NVIDIA currently fabricates their chips at TSMC. That partnership has proven to be slightly problematic to NVIDIA’s business goals. Their Kepler launch turned out to not be nearly as soft of a launch as was proposed by SemiAccurate -- but that is to be expected from a website by that name (especially with NVIDIA news).

Perhaps you were a little too greedy in requesting that Intel manufacture your ARM processors, NVIDIA? Maybe you should test the waters with a discrete GPU order or, you know, some other market that Intel does not compete in try as they might.

Even still, there was a rumor going around when Intel partnered with AMD for hardware-accelerated physics support. It does not seem like Intel really want to be friends. Plenty of fish in the sea, though.

Source: Forbes

TSMC's 28nm process is going to be around for the long haul

Subject: General Tech | March 20, 2012 - 01:12 PM |
Tagged: TSMC, nvidia, amd, southern islands, kepler, 28nm, maxwell, llano

TSMC's 28nm process has been in the news for a long time, sometimes this was a good thing but more often it was not.  Back in May of 2009 the first announcements of TSMC's brand new 28nm process hit the news with major production slated to start in early 2010.  That didn't happen on time, much to several companies dismay as Josh unhappily discussed towards the end of 2010.  This set a trend for TSMC's 28nm process for a while, for instance AMD did not quite meet their promise of readily available 28nm GPUs in 2011, though a late December launch for the HD7970 did meet the spirit of the agreement.  The delays and issues on TSMC's 28nm lines had a variety of causes, perhaps one of the worst being TSMC's overly optimistic attitude about their production capabilities especially when AMD had a surprise for them.  Add to that the long line of woes during the development and production of NVIDIA's 28nm Kepler GPU as well as the recent shutdown of the production line, and you can see why TSMC's 28nm process has spent a lot of time being maligned in the news.  It almost makes you forget about the 40nm process woes, but that is ancient news.

All that effort is not going to waste as DigiTimes reports that TSMC is planning on expanding their 28nm capacity this year and expects that process to account for 10% of their 2012 revenue.  The next question on most peoples minds is the progress on TSMC's 22nm process which in 2010 they announced would be ready by Q3 2012, something which NVIDIA's Maxwell team is probably anticipating with great anxiety.

TSMC.jpg

"With current capacity for 28nm processes filled up, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) is likely to expand the leading-edge process capacity later in 2012, according to industry sources.

TSMC reportedly is running at full capacity at its 12-inch fabs due to strong orders for 28nm as well as 40nm and 65nm designs. In order to avoid orders to rivals such as United Microelectronics (UMC) and Samsung Electronics, TSMC will have to speed up the pace of its leading-edge capacity expansion in particular its 28nm capacity, the sources said."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: DigiTimes

Nobody likes NVIDIA, even Apple won't play with them

Subject: General Tech | March 13, 2012 - 12:15 PM |
Tagged: TSMC, nvidia, macbook, kelper, Ivy Bridge, fermi, apple

NVIDIA has been having a rough life lately with problems besetting them on all sides.  Their IGP business has been disembowelled by AMD's Llano and even Intel is now offering usable graphics with the HD3000 on higher end Sandy Bridge chips.   The console makers seem to have decided on AMD as the provider of choice for the next generation of products which locks NVIDIA out of that market for years to come, as console generations tend to last significantly longer than PC components.  The delays at TSMC have enabled AMD to launch three families of next generation GPU without NVIDIA being able to respond, which not only hurts NVIDIA's bottom line but lets AMD set their own pricing until NVIDIA can finally release Kepler, at a price that will not be wholly of their choosing. 

Now according to SemiAccurate they are losing a goodly portion of Apple's MacBook business as well.  The supply issues which will be the result of the fabrication problems were likely a big factor in Apple's decision to trim back GPU orders but there is also the fact that the low to mid range GPU could well be going extinct.  With the power of the forthcoming Intel HD4000 and AMD's Trinity line of APUs it will become hard for laptop and system makers to justify putting in a discrete GPU since they will have to choose relatively expensive parts to have the discrete GPU contribute to performance. That leaves NVIDIA only providing GPUs for high end MacBooks, a much less lucrative market than the mid range.  Don't even mention the previous issue of overheating GPUs.

ENGAD_macbookproboom.jpg

"That is exactly what SemiAccurate moles are telling us is going on. Nvidia can’t supply, so Apple threw them out on their proverbial magical experience. This doesn’t mean that Nvidia is completely out at Apple, the Intel GPUs are too awful to satisfy the higher end laptops, so there will need to be something in those. What that something is, we don’t definitively know yet, but the possibilities are vanishingly small."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: SemiAccurate

TSMC Suffers 28 nm Woes

Subject: Editorial | March 9, 2012 - 11:45 AM |
Tagged: TSMC, tahiti, process node, nvidia, kepler, amd, 28 nm

 Charlie over at Semiaccurate is reporting that TSMC has closed down their entire 28 nm line.  Shut down.  Not running wafers.  This obviously cannot be good.

Apparently TSMC stopped the entire line about three weeks ago and have not restarted it.  This type of thing does not happen very often, and when it does, things are really out of whack.  Going back we have heard mixed reviews of TSMC’s 28 nm process.  NVIDIA was quoted as saying that yields still were not very good, but at least were better than what they experienced with their first 40 nm part (GTX 400 series).  Now, part of NVIDIA’s problem was that the design was as much of an issue as the 40 nm process was.  AMD at the time was churning out HD 5000 series parts at a pretty good rate, and they said their yields were within expectations.

tsmc_logo.jpg

AMD so far is one of the first customers out of the gate with a large volume of 28 nm parts.  The HD 7900 series has been out since the second week of January, the HD 7700 series since mid-February, and the recently released HD 7800 series will reach market in about 2 weeks.  Charlie has done some more digging and has found out that AMD has enough product in terms of finished boards and packaged chips that they will be able to handle the shutdown from TSMC.  Things will get tight at the end, but apparently the wafers in the middle of being processed have not been thrown out or destroyed.  So once production starts again, AMD and the other customers will not have to wait 16 to 20 weeks before getting finished product.

NVIDIA will likely not fare nearly as well.  The bulk of the stoppage occurred during the real “meat and potatoes” manufacturing cycle for the company.  NVIDIA expects to launch the first round of Kepler based products this month, but if production has been stopped for the past three weeks then we can bet that there are a lot of NVIDIA wafers just sitting in the middle of production.  Charlie also claims that the NVIDIA launch will not be a hard one, and NVIDIA expects retail products to be available several weeks after the introduction.

The potential reasons for this could be legion.  Was there some kind of toxic spill that resulted in a massive cleanup that required the entire line to be shut down?  Was there some kind of contamination that was present while installing the line, but was not discovered until well after production started?  Or was something glossed over during installation that ballooned into a bigger problem that just needed to be rectified (a stitch in time saves nine)?

Source: SemiAccurate

Maybe that is why TSMC stopped production on 28nm?

Subject: General Tech | March 8, 2012 - 03:09 PM |
Tagged: TSMC, 28nm

The news broke yesterday that TSMC had halted production on 28nm production in mid February for an undisclosed reason.  SemiAccurate thought this strange as the only company that is admitting to problems with TSMC's 28nm process is NVIDIA, but at least production was scheduled to restart by the end of March.  Today from DigiTimes we hear a more positive story about not only the 28nm but also the 20nm process line as TSMC predicts that the demand for chips from their customers could go as high as 95% of their capacity.  Perhaps because of the lack of pressure because of a currently well stocked channel they shut down the line to ensure no preventable problems would prevent them from meeting this high demand?

tsmc_wafer.jpg

"Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) chairman and CEO Morris Chang has commented that development of 20nm and 28nm processes is progressing well. The market believes TSMC's capacity utilization rate in second-quarter 2012 should be close to 95%.

Chang indicated that 28nm processes will likely contribute 10% of 2012 revenues.

Industry sources pointed out that TSMC's capacity utilization of its 28nm and 45nm processes at its 12-inch wafer plant has not decreased and delivery usually takes 8-10 weeks.

Equipment makers also indicated that TSMC has been ordering equipment and installations will be completed in first-half 2012.

Industry sources added that other Taiwan-based IC design houses have been experiencing increasing orders. The market was pessimistic before the Lunar New Year holidays causing inventory levels to be low. This has induced the recent wave of increased orders."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: DigiTimes

NVIDIA is up for a rough year

Subject: General Tech | February 16, 2012 - 12:45 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, 28nm, TSMC, kepler, tegra, tegra 3

If you caught the podcast last night you would have heard Josh discussing NVIDIA's year end financial conference call, otherwise you will have to wait until the 'cast is posted later this week.  Until then you can read SemiAccurate's take on the call here.  There is a lot of news about NVIDIA and none of it is good, from wafer yields to chip demand nothing seems to have gone right for them.  Attempting to move off of their cursed 40nm line and switching to 28nm, NVIDIA has run into big yield problems as in entire wafers having issues as opposed to just some dies being bad.  

Tegra is not doing so well either, with sales of Tegra 2 dropping as we approach the release of Tegra 3, which is getting a lot of bad press.  SemiAccurate refers to the chip as bloated in size as well as being downright expensive to make.  Combine that with the fact that NVIDIA is lagging on A15 adoption and Samsung and Apple turning their backs on Tegra and it doesn't look good for NVIDIA's mobile plans. The one ray of sunshine is that even combined Samsung and Apple do not account for even half of smartphones on the market, so there is still room for NVIDIA and Tegra to grow.

Tegra3_Chip.jpg

"Nvidia seems to be so far ahead of the curve that they are experiencing problems that are unique in the industry. In their recent year end financial conference call, there was enough said to draw some very grim conclusions.

Today’s conference call was a near complete validation of all the things SemiAccurate has been saying about Nvidia. Remember when we asked if Nvidia could supply Apple? Anyone notice the part about dumping early 28nm capacity, and the disappearance of 28nm Fermi shrinks? Remember how 28nm was not an issue for Nvidia, even if their product roadmap slips said otherwise. How well does this mesh with the quotes from Jen-Hsun himself on the topic?"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: SemiAccurate

TSMC finds Samsung to be a competing Foundry

Subject: General Tech | January 19, 2012 - 11:51 AM |
Tagged: TSMC, Samsung, fab

When thinking of foundries one first tends to think of Intel, TSMC and GLOBALFOUNDRIES, but from what TSMC's Chairman revealed yesterday you might start thinking about the Fab 4 instead.  Samsung have been making DRAM and NAND memory for quite a while now as anyone who has inspected their DIMMs or SSD is well aware and their hard drive business is well known.  What has not been in enthusiasts' minds is the System LSI (Large Scale Integration), component of Samsung which designs logic chips for cellphones, SOCs, sensors and many other low powered tasks. 

While TSMC remains much larger than the System LSI portion of Samsung but TSMC feels that Samsung could become a major competitor over the coming year.  TSMC's product lines certainly do overlap some of Samsung's currently and there are new projects in the work that TSMC sees as vulnerable.  DigiTimes specifically mentions the TSV chips powering 3D TVs and the possibility of competition when Apple looks to source the 3D TVs they will be adding to the set top boxes they currently sell.

pkg_technicalinfo_TSV_01.gif

"Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the world's largest contract chipmaker, has now identified Samsung Electronics as a potential and formidable competitor in the market in which it still controls a dominant share.

During a Q&A session at TSMC's investors meeting on January 18, Morris Chang, TSMC chairman and CEO, said that Samsung will substantially expand what it calls the System LSI division. In addition to servicing its clients, the business also plays a major role in supplying Samsung's own-brand system products such as smartphones and tablets with logic chips, Chang indicated."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: DigiTimes

TSMC finds its 28nm dance card a little overbooked

Subject: General Tech | November 25, 2011 - 12:21 PM |
Tagged: TSMC, 28nm, amd, krishna, wichita

The 28nm process is causing a lot of problems for tech companies especially AMD who have cancelled the follow ups to Llano and Ontario, Krishna and Wichita.  Not only have they cancelled the chips but they have switched from GLOBALFOUNDRIES to TSMC to have the replacement chips designed and fabbed.  This is most likely because of the low yields that have been coming out of GLOBALFOUNDRIES with Llano, AMD's most successful recent design.  The low volumes hurt AMD's market share since many companies would not base a product line on a chip that might not be around in volume.  As well a deal is expiring in January which had AMD only paying for good dies, instead of the more usual practice of paying for the entire wafer and dealing with the bad dies as they come

That move might not be as successful as AMD hopes when you look at this article from DigiTimes.  As it turns out TSMC is concerned about their ability to meet the demand for 28nm chips from their customers.  It is not just AMD that is turning to TSMC for 28nm, Altera, NVIDIA, Qualcomm and Xilinx are already customers and Broadcom, LSI Logic and STMicroelectronics may join that crowd.  With so many customers utilizing the same process even small problems on TSMC's lines could lead to big drops in available chips.  Let us hope the days of the 40nm problems at TSMC never come back.

DT_TSMC_f15.jpg

"Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) continues to see orders heat up for advanced 28nm technology, despite a general slowdown in the semiconductor industry, according to industry sources. Order visibility has stretched to about six months, said the sources.

TSMC is expected to see 28nm processes account for more than 2% of company revenues in the fourth quarter of 2011. The proportion will expand further to over 10% in 2012, as more available capacity coupled with rising customer demand boost the output, the sources indicated."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: DigiTimes

A milquetoast reception to the next generation of GPUs

Subject: General Tech | October 26, 2011 - 11:56 AM |
Tagged: gpu, amd, nvidia, southern islands, kepler, TSMC, 28nm

While most enthusiasts are living up to the name as far as the build up to the coming GPU refreshes from both AMD and NVIDIA is concerned, the manufacturers are quite the opposite.  There are several probable reasons for this attitude, not least of which are the number of HD 6570s and GTS 450s that are still in their stock.  Remember those cards from back in the spring of this year, which were the high end of a huge range of GPUs from both companies spanning $20 to either side of $100?  Think that with the current generation of Llano and SandyBridge that any knowledgeable person is going to purchase one, let alone when you consider how close the release of next generation of APUs is?  The two major players in the discrete GPU market not only updated the top end of their cards quickly over the past several quarters there was a widening of the market which saw current generation cards available from ~$75 to ~$750 with some segments separated by as little as $10.  That translates to huge inventories at the manufacturer level which they then have to convince resellers and retailers to purchase for stock to sell to the consumer and many of those cards are still sitting there collecting dust.  No wonder these same companies are leery of purchasing more stock before finding a way to recover some profit from the stock they have now.

To make things even worse there exist doubts about the 28nm process from TSMC, which DigiTimes discusses here.  While AMD is still claiming delivery of HD7000 family cards before the coming year, the troubles that NVIDIA seems to be having with the same process concerns those who need to be able to buy large volumes of chips in order to turn a profit selling graphics cards.  Even worse is the realization that the first cards NVIDIA will be releasing are simply a die shrink, without architectural changes.  When two companies go to the same source for the same thing and one reports getting apple cider and the other apple vinegar, you really have to start to wonder what is really going on. 

ryans_stacked.jpg

"While Nvidia and AMD are poised to use Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company's (TSMC's) 28nm technology to produce the GPUs Kepler and Southern Islands respectively, most Taiwan-based graphics card makers hold a conservative attitude about the new GPUs with some makers cautiously watching the market status before making any further decisions, according to industry sources.

Compared to the makers' eagerness for the previous-generation GPUs, graphics card makers are rather conservative about the upcoming 28nm chips due to concerns such as TSMC's weak 40nm process yield rate issues may re-occur in its 28nm process and weakening demand for graphics cards and lower-than-expected gross margins."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: DigiTimes