Subject: General Tech | February 23, 2019 - 03:08 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: TSMC, lithography, euv, asml, 7nm, 5nm
According to Hexus, chip manufacturing giant TSMC will begin mass production of its enhanced 7nm process node as soon as next month. The new "CLN7FF+, N7+" mode incorporates limited use of EUV (extreme ultraviolet lithography) on four non-critical layers using specialized equipment from ASML to offer 20% higher transistor density and between six to twelve percent lower power consumption at the same complexity/frequency. Those numbers are versus TSMC's current 7nm process node (CLN7FF, N7) which uses DUV (deep ultraviolet lithography) with ArF (Argon Fluoride) excimer lasers.
TSMC is reportedly buying up slightly more than half of ASML's production of EUV equipment for 2019 with the chip maker reserving 18 of the 30 EUV units that will ship this year. It will use the ASML Twinscan NXE step and scan machines to produce its enhanced 7nm node and allow TSMC to familiarize themselves with the technology and dial it in for use with its upcoming 5nm node (and beyond) which will more heavily incorporate EUV with it being used on up to 14 layers of the 5nm process node manufacturing. AnandTech reports that the 5nm EUV node will bring 1.8-times the transistor density (45% area reduction) of the non-EUV 7nm node along with either 20% less power usage or 15% more performance at the same chip complexity and frequency.
Interestingly, while 7nm production accounted for roughly 9% of TSMC's output in 2018, it will reportedly be up to a quarter of all TSMC's chip shipments in 2019.
Mass production of the 7nm EUV node will begin as soon as March with risk production of 5nm chips slated to being in April with the first chip designs being taped out within the first half of the year. Volume production of 5nm chips is not expected until the first half of 2020, however, though that would put it just in time for AMD's Zen 2+ architecture. Of course, AMD, Apple, HiSilicon, and Xilinx are TSMC's big customers for the current 7nm node (especially AMD who is using TSMC for its 7nm CPU and GPU orders), and Huawei / HiSilicon may well be TSMC's first customer for the EUV incorporating CLN7FF+, N7+ node.
With GlobalFoundries backing off of leading-edge process techs and shelving 7nm, Intel and Samsung are TSMC's competition in this extremely complicated and expensive space. 2020 and beyond are going to be very interesting as EUV production ramps up and is pushed as far as it can go to bring process technologies as close to the theoretical limits that the market will bear. I think we still have a good while left for process shrinks, with some of these lower node numbers being attributed to marketing (with some elements being that small but depending on what and how they measure these nodes) but it is definitely going to get expensive and I am curious who will continue on and carry the ball to the traditional manufacturing process finish line or if we will need some other exotic materials or way of computing paradigm shift to happen before we even attempt to get there simply due to unrealistic R&D and other costs not making it worth it enough for even the big players to pursue.
In talking with Josh Walrath, he clarified that EUV does not, by itself, offer performance enhancements, but it does cut down on exposures/patterning and reduces the steps where things can go wrong which can lead to improved yields when implemented correctly. Using extreme ultraviolet lithography isn't a magic bullet though, as the fabrication equipment is expensive and uses a lot of power driving up manufacturing costs. TSMC is using EUV on its N7+ node to get "tighter metal pitch" and more density along with lower power consumption. Performance improvements are still unknown at this point (to the public, anyway), but as Mr. Walrath said performance isn't going to increase simply from moving to EUV. When moving to 5nm, TSMC does claim performance improvements, but most of those gains are likely attributed to the much higher density of the resulting chips. Using EUV to get yields up at that small of a node is likely the biggest reason for utilizing EUV to get enough useable wafer and dies per wafer. TSMC must believe that the costs [of EUV] versus trying to do it [5nm] without working in EUV into the processis worth it. Stay tuned to this week's PC Perspective podcast if you are interested in additional thoughts from JoshTekk and the team (or check out our Discord server).
What are your thoughts?
Subject: General Tech | February 1, 2019 - 08:50 AM | Jim Tanous
Tagged: wd black, W-3175X, TSMC, ssd, SFX, seasonic, samsung 970 evo, Samsung, RTX 2060, radeon vii, quarterly earnings, overclocking, NVMe, gtx 1660 ti, cooler master, benchmarks, podcast
PC Perspective Podcast #530 - 1/30/2019
This week on the show, we have reviews of two power supplies, two new NVMe SSDs from Samsung and Western Digital, a look at a new low-profile keyboard from Cooler Master, more RTX 2060 benchmarks and overclocking, Radeon VII rumors and leaked benchmarks, AMD's Q4 earnings, and more!
Subscribe to the PC Perspective Podcast
Check out previous podcast episodes: http://pcper.com/podcast
00:02:30 - Review: Seasonic SGX-650 PSU
00:04:13 - Review: Cooler Master MWE Gold 750W PSU
00:05:21 - Review: WD Black SN750 NVMe SSD
00:10:33 - Review: Samsung 970 EVO Plus NVMe SSD
00:18:18 - Review: Cooler Master SK630 Low Profile Keyboard
00:21:42 - Review: RTX 2060 1440p & Overclocking Benchmarks
00:27:57 - News: Trouble at TSMC?
00:31:00 - News: AMD Gonzalo APU & Next-Gen Console Specs
00:39:47 - News: Radeon VII Rumors & Benchmarks
00:44:15 - News: GTX 1660 Ti Rumors
00:46:50 - News: Samsung OLED Displays for Notebooks
00:50:14 - News: Backblaze HDD Longevity Report
00:52:44 - News: Intel 28-Core Xeon W-3175X
00:58:41 - News: Samsung 1TB eUFS Chip for Smartphones
01:01:56 - News: AMD Q4 Earnings
01:13:48 - Picks of the Week
01:20:59 - Outro
Subject: General Tech | January 29, 2019 - 02:28 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: amd, nvidia, TSMC
In case you have yet to hear, TSMC's production line is suffering after ingesting some sub-par chemicals, which has "caused wafers to have lower yield". It was originally reported that it was the 16n and 14nm process nodes which were effected, used by NVIDIA and MediaTek GPUs as well as AMD's Xbox One X and PS4 APUs.
The Inquirer followed up with TSMC who stated the initial reports were incorrect and that it is roughly 10,000 wafers on the 12nm and 16nm nodes at Fab 14B in southern Taiwan which received the bad batch, nodes used by Huawei, MediaTek, and NVIDIA but not AMD.
TSMC still expects to meet market demands; they have dropped enough from last year that they announced expected Q1 2019 revenue will decline by 22%. Hopefully this is not the start of another problematic year for TSMC, who had to deal with a WannaCry infection last summer.
AMD, with their focus on the 7nm node, might have a bit of an opportunity if this does cause any temporary shortages of NVIDIA GPUs on the market.
Subject: General Tech | January 11, 2019 - 01:14 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: amd, 7nm, CoWoS, TSMC, SPIL, TFME
DigiTimes today is sharing some information about just where AMD's 7nm chips will be processed and there seems to be a name missing. TSMC, SPIL and TFME will all be producing specific products but there is no mention of GLOBALFOUNDRIES in the news post.
TSMC will handle the bulk of the EPYC and HPC versions of Vega production with their chip-on-wafer-on-substrate, as one might expect; SPIL and TFME will handle desktop Ryzen and GPUs. One hopes that by diversifying their production sources we can avoid shortages from one line effecting the entire market as we have seen in the past.
"TSMC is also among the backend partners of AMD for its new 7nm computing and graphics products, according to industry sources. Siliconware Precision Industries (SPIL) under Taiwan's ASE Technology Holding, and China-based Tongfu Microelectronics (TFME) are other backend service providers for the chips, the sources continued."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Windows 10 Insiders sent on quest deep into Registry to fetch goblet of Reserved Storage @ The Register
- After broken promise, AT&T says it’ll stop selling phone location data @ Ars Technica
- Developer Bungie Splits With Publisher Activision, Will Keep World Shooter Series Destiny @ Slashdot
- Reddit locks out users with poor password hygiene after spotting 'unusual activity' @ The Register
- PC shipments drop again, just as things were starting to look up @ The Inquirer
- Sex toy wins CES robotics award, then has it taken away in ridiculous moral panic @ The Inquirer
- Hackaday Podcast Ep1 – Seriously, We Know What We’re Doing
Subject: General Tech | October 30, 2018 - 03:05 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: TSMC, Intel
It has been a while since Intel last used TSMC to fab some of their chips apart from some FPGA lines but rumours that DigiTimes have heard suggest that could change. The current theory is that Intel may move Atom production, and possibly chipset fabrication as well, to an outside provider. TSMC would be the only fab capable of switch production in a meaningful amount of time, leading to speculation their might be a deal in the works. If TSMC is agreeable then theoretically Intel could use the freed production capability to increase production of Xeon and Core chips, which they currently desire as they are unable to meet demand.
That's not the only rumour floating around today as we have seen hints of AMD's new RX 590 as well as reported issues from those who secured an RTX 2080 Ti. More on those as they develop.
"As its processor supply continues to fall short of demand, Intel reportedly has begun planning to outsource production for its entry-level Atom processors and some of its chipsets while keeping its high-margin Xeon and Core CPU production in-house, according to sources from the upstream supply chain."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- AMD's Radeon RX 590 set to make official debut on 15 November @ The Inquirer
- Nvidia's GeForce RTX 2080 Ti cards are reportedly failing in high numbers @ The Inquirer
- Pain in the brain! Kaspersky warns of hackable brain implants @ The Register
- Another Windows 10 bug lets UWP apps have access to all your files @ The Inquirer
- Microsoft teaches a 10-year-old Red Dog new tricks and the Windows 10 1809 delay hits Exchange 2019 @ The Register
- 5 Days of Awesome Wallpapers: Geometric Wallpapers @ Techspot
Subject: General Tech | October 16, 2018 - 01:44 PM | Josh Walrath
Tagged: UMC, TSMC, Samsung, Neoverse, cosmos, cortex, arm, Ares, A76, 7nm, 7+nm, 5nm
Subject: Editorial | July 29, 2018 - 07:49 PM | Josh Walrath
Tagged: TSMC, Skylake, ryzen, Results, Q2, Intel, amd, 7nm, 2018, 10nm
The day after AMD announced their quarterly results, Intel followed up with a very impressive quarter of their own. Intel has reported another record quarter with $17B in revenue and $5B net. The business is extremely healthy and they continue to provide a lot of value and returns to shareholders. Typically Q2 is the second slowest quarter of the year, but Intel was able to improve their revenues by $900M over Q1. In certain quarters a 5% increase may not be all that large, but it is a significant jump from Q1 to Q2.
Intel reported that nearly all areas of the company have grown. Client Computing Group showed a 6% increase year over year, which is good news for the industry in general as many have (often) predicted that the PC market is in decline. This is also in the face of renewed competition from AMD and their Zen architecture based products. AMD also has grown steadily over the past year in terms of shipping products, so that further reinforces the impression that the PC market continues to grow steadily.
The data-centric business is steadily closing the gap between it and the PC centric group. CCG posted $8.7B in revenues while the data groups combined came in at around $8.1B. The Data Center Group was $5.5B of that result. It is up a very impressive 27% yoy. Intel has what seems to be a juggernaut in the data center with their Xeon products, and that growth is quite likely to continue growing as the need for data processing in our information rich world seemingly knows no bounds.
Intel raised their outlook for the year by nearly $2B to an impressive $69B in revenues. This is easily 10x that of their primary competitor. 2018 has certainly been a very profitable year for Intel and it looks to continue that trend throughout the last two quarters. Intel continues to improve upon their 14nm processes and it has allowed them to achieve a 61.4% margin. Compare this to AMD’s 37% margin and we can understand why 2018 is looking so good. Intel has lost a little bit on margin as compared to last year, but the amount of products being shipped is simply stunning as compared to its rival.
There were some expecting AMD to be taking up more of Intel’s marketshare, but that has not been the case. If anything, while AMD’s bottom line has improved, Intel appears to have actually taken more share in an expanding market. Unlike 2003 when AMD had the superior product with the Athlon 64 over Intel’s Pentium 4, the current Ryzen CPUs are “merely” competitive. While the performance and efficiency jump for AMD’s architecture is impressive considering the previous “Bulldozer” based generation, they now offer comparable performance with a price/core count advantage over Intel. This has not been enough to convince people and organizations to change en masse to AMD’s offerings. In 2003 a 2 GHz Athlon 64 was outperforming a 3.2 GHz Pentium 4. AMD was able to continue outperforming Intel even though they were at a serious process disadvantage.
While Q3 and Q4 look to continue Intel’s string of record quarters, things do not look as rosy when we get into 2019. Intel has had an endless stream of problems getting their advanced 10nm process up and running. It was originally expected to replace Intel’s 14nm process around two years after that particular process had been introduced. Then it turned into three years. Now we are five years into Intel using a 14nm variant for their latest generation of products. Intel used to have a 18 to 24 month lead over the competition when it comes to process technology, but now that advantage has all but evaporated. In theory Intel’s 10nm process is superior to what TSMC is offering with its 7nm in terms of die size, power, and transistor performance. However, those advantages do not amount to anything if it is unworkable. Intel has been very tight lipped with analysts and shareholders about the exact issues it is facing with the direction they set on with 10nm. It seems the combination of materials, tolerances, and self-aligned quad patterning is problematic enough that Intel cannot get consistent results with yields and bins.
In the conference call Intel said that 10nm parts will be available on shelves by the holiday season of 2019. This means that Intel expects to hit high volume manufacturing near the end of 1H 2019. Intel further stated that data center parts will be shipping shortly after desktop and mobile, so most expect the first products to hit in Q1 2020. The problem that Intel will is that TSMC will be starting volume manufacturing of their 7nm parts shortly, if not already. AMD has 7nm EPYC sampling to partners and has spoken of a 1H introduction of those parts in volume. AMD will be introducing the Zen 2 architecture in that time on both server and desktop, and they are hinting at a significant IPC uplift with these parts.
If Intel is able to hit its 10nm goal in late 2019, AMD will have around a nine month window where they theoretically could have a superior product than Intel. AMD will surely come ahead from a density standpoint. If we combine this with the potential IPC improvement and a small uplift in transistor performance, then Zen 2 products should be able to outclass anything Intel comes out with. If AMD is really on the ball, then their EPYC processors could have a year to themselves without a comparable product from Intel.
This type of competition does not mean that Intel will simply shrivel up and die, but it is causing investors to rethink holding onto the stock after the pretty impressive run up over the past several years. Intel still has more fab space available to it than AMD could dream of at this point. There will be a lot of competition for 7nm wafer starts that will be shared by AMD, NVIDIA, Qualcomm, and Apple (not to mention dozens of other fab-less semi firms). AMD could very well sell as many chips as it can make, but it simply cannot address the needs of all of the markets that it is competing in. If GLOBALFOUNDRIES 7nm process is similar to TSMC’s, then we will see AMD be able to supply far greater amounts of product to the market, but GF is at least six months behind TSMC when it comes to ramping up their next generation process line. I would not expect GF based CPUs to hit anytime before Q2 2019, if not towards the end of that quarter.
Does this mean that Intel expects nothing except doom and gloom throughout 2019 and possibly into 2020? I do not think so. Intel will retain its market dominance, but it looks to be experiencing a situation that is a combination of a competitor hitting its stride as well as some bad luck/poor planning with manufacturing. This should open the door for AMD to make significant advances in marketshare and allow the company to make some serious money by improving their ASPs as well as shipping more parts.
2018 will undoubtedly be a record year for Intel. It is 2019 that is giving pause to investors and shareholders. If Intel can clean up its 10nm process in a timely manner they will close the door on any advances from AMD. If the company continues to experience issues with 10nm and never in fact gets it out the door, then it will be a long couple of years til Intel gets out their 7nm process. The rumor is that engineers have been pulled off of 7nm to fix 10nm. If this is the case, then I hesitate to even think when we will be seeing that upcoming node coming to fruition.
Subject: Processors | April 25, 2018 - 09:45 PM | Josh Walrath
Tagged: Zen+, Vega, TSMC, ryzen, Results, Q1 2018, Polaris, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, financials, amd, 7nm, 12nm
Today AMD announced their latest financial results for Q1 2018. We expected it to be a good quarter with their guidance earlier this year, but I doubt many thought it would be as strong as it turned out to be. AMD posted revenue of $1.65 billion with a net income of $81 million. This is up from the expected $1.57 billion that analysts expected from what is typically a slow quarter. This is up 40% from Q1 2017 and its $1.18 billion and up 23% from Q4 2017.
There are multiple reasons behind this revenue growth. The compute and graphics segment lead the way with $1.12B of revenue. The entire year of 2017 AMD had released parts seemingly nonstop since March and the introduction of Ryzen. Q1 continued this trend with the release of the first Ryzen APUs with Vega Graphics introducing the 2000 series. AMD also ramped up production of the newly released Zen+ Ryzen chips and started shipping those out to retailers and partners alike. Initial mobile Ryzen parts were also introduced and shipped with SKUs being also shipped to partners who have yet to announce and release products based on these chips. Finally the strength of the Radeon graphics chips in both gaming and blockchain applications allowed them a tremendous amount of sellthrough throughout 2017 and into 2018. AMD estimates that 10% of the quarter was due to blockchain demand.
Enterprise, Embedded, and Semi-Custom had a revenue of $532 million, which is lower than most analysts expected. Semi-Custom in particular has seen a decline over the past few quarters with the release and saturation of the market of the latest console platforms utilizing AMD designed chips. It appears as though much of the contract is front loaded in terms of revenue with royalties tapering off over time as sales decrease. AMD did have some significant wins, namely providing Intel with Vega based GPUs to be integrated with Intel’s Kaby Lake-G based units. These declines were offset by the shipment of EPYC based processors that are slowly ramping and being shipped to partners to be integrated into server platforms later this year. We have seen a handful of wins from companies like Dell EMC, but AMD is still slowly re-entering the market that they were forced to abandon with their previous, outdated Opteron products. AMD expects to reach mid-single digit marketshare during 2019, but for now they are just getting off the ground with this platform.
The company is not standing still or resting on their laurels after the successful and heralded launch of the latest Ryzen 2000 series chips based on the Zen+ architecture. It is aggressively ramping their mobile chips featuring the Zen/Vega combination and have some 25 product wins being released throughout late spring and summer. Overall partners have some 60 products either shipping or will ship later this year featuring Ryzen based CPUs.
There is some fear that AMD will see its GPU sales throughput be impacted by the recent drop of cryptocurrency value. Several years back with the Bitcoin crash we saw a tremendous amount of secondhand product being sold and GPU revenues for the company tanked. AMD is a bit more optimistic about the upcoming quarter as they expect the current cryptocurrency/blockchain market is much more robust and people will be holding onto these cards to mine other products/workloads rather than drop them on eBay. My thought here is that we will see a rise in cards available on the secondary/used market, but quite a bit might be offset by latent gaming demand that has been held back due the outrageous prices of GPUs over the past year. People that have been waiting for prices to get back to MSRP or below will then buy. This could be further enhanced if memory prices start to drop, providing more affordable DDR4 and flash for SSDs.
The company is also forging ahead with advanced process technology. They have recently received silicon back from TSMC’s 7nm process and it looks to be a Vega based product. The rumor surrounding this is that it will be more of a compute platform initially rather than gaming oriented. Later this year AMD expects to receive new EPYC silicon, but it looks as though this will be from GLOBALFOUNDRIES 7nm process. AMD wants to be flexible in terms of manufacturing, but they have a long history with GLOBALFOUNDRIES when it comes to CPU production. The two companies work closely together to make sure the process and CPU design match up as cleanly as possible to allow products such as Zen to reach market successfully. The GPU arm is obviously more flexible here as they have a history with multiple foundry partners throughout the past two decades.
AMD has set an aggressive, but achievable, timetable of product releases that is initially focusing on the CPU side but would logically be transitioning to the GPU side. Zen+ is out on time and has met with acclaim from consumers and reviewers alike. The latest GPU products are comparable in performance to what NVIDIA has to offer, though they are less power efficient for that level of performance. The “pipecleaner” Vega on 7nm will pave the way towards Navi based products that look to be introduced next year. AMD could possibly refresh Vega on 12nm, but so far there has been no concrete information that such a product exists. They may very well continue to rely on current Polaris and Vega products throughout the rest of this year while focusing on Navi efforts to have a more competitive part come 2019.
Q2 2018 looks to be another successful quarter for AMD. The company’s outlook calls for revenue in the $1.725 billion range, plus or minus $50 million. AMD expects continued growth in all Ryzen product lines and greater throughput of EPYC based products as companies test and release products based on that platform. The GPU market could remain flat, but will most likely decline. That decline will be more than covered by the sell-through of the Ryzen line from top to bottom.
AMD improved their margin by an impressive 4%. Going from 32% to 36% showed the strength and higher ASPs of both CPU and GPU products. AMD expects another 1% increase over the next quarter. While these are good numbers for AMD, they do not match the 58%+ for NVIDIA and Intel when it comes to their margins. AMD certainly has a lot of room for improvement, and a richer product stack will allow them to achieve greater ASPs and see a rise in their overall margins. If EPYC becomes more successful, then we could see another significant improvement in margins for the company.
AMD is getting back to where they belong in terms of product placement, competitiveness, and financial performance. The company has seen a huge improvement year on year and hopes to continue that with a rich product stack that addresses multiple areas of computing. AI and machine learning is ramping up in the company in terms of software support as they feel their CPUs and GPUs are already good enough to handle the workloads. As more money comes in, they can afford to diversify and create a wider product base to compete in more markets. So far Lisa Su has been very, very successful in helping pull AMD from the ashes to the competitive situation that they currently find themselves in.
Subject: General Tech | September 11, 2017 - 05:27 PM | Josh Walrath
Tagged: Vega, TSMC, Samsung, ryzen, Intel, euv, 8nm, 7nm, 14nm, 11nm, 10nm
Subject: General Tech | July 20, 2017 - 11:53 AM | Alex Lustenberg
Tagged: zenbook, z270, wireless charging, water cooling, VR, video, Vega, TSMC, thermaltake, SILVIA, podcast, Pacific, Oculus, Kabby Lake-R, corsair, Contac, asus, amd
PC Perspective Podcast #459 - 07/20/17
Join us for Threadripper Pricing, Liquid Cooled VEGA, Intel Rumors, and more!
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano
Peanut Gallery: Ken Addison, Alex Lustenberg, Jim Tanous