Is Intel thinking of hooking up with TSMC again?

Subject: General Tech | October 30, 2018 - 03:05 PM |
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.

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"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."

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October 30, 2018 | 03:23 PM - Posted by InHellTheFinalDestinationOfIntelsManagement (not verified)

Sounds like TSMC maybe for some Intel Chip Set production and freeing up any of Intel's Internal Chip Set fab lines for CPU production.

If I where TSMC I'd only let Intel near TSMC's 16nm node and never let Intel get their hands on any 7nm production information. Chip Sets do not need to be on any leading edge node anyways.

But Never Let Intel near your 7nm production, TSMC, you do Know That's Intel don't you!

AMD's RX 590 at 12nm from GlobalFoundries and maybe AMD will have some time available before any 7nm Raven Ridge APUs are available to maybe refresh Raven Ridge APUs that currently are on Zen/14nm to GF's newer 12nm with some more tweaks and maybe some space saving for More Vega nCUs.

October 31, 2018 | 04:24 PM - Posted by ColossalCollapse (not verified)

With regard to the reports of RTX'es failing, i can't help but thinking pre-orders, early access, ... What's next, unlockables you can't use right from start? Oh wait... ;-)

(I know, i know, Nvidia certainly did NOT intend the purchasers of their flagship consumer products to be beta testers for their silicon. I am not a conspiracy nut. ...yet)

October 31, 2018 | 07:48 PM - Posted by chipman (not verified)

Why doesn't Intel just buy GlobalFoundries to expand its capacity? It could be a better deal than building a new one.

November 1, 2018 | 12:05 PM - Posted by ItsLikeThisInTheRealWorldWithTheFabBusiness (not verified)

Not allowed under Justice Department review as that would reduce competition in the foundry market.

GlobalFoundries will still be fabbing first generation Epyc/Naples and Ryzen Pro SKUs for those product's extended product availability guarantee periods. So First generation Epyc/Naples and Ryzen Pro branded products still will be produced beyond the usual 2 years that most consumer SKUs are produced before they are replaced by the next generation of consumer products.

The server/enterprise market demand and recieve extended product availability and product support guarantees or they will not purchase any product from that maker. So for AMD's Epyc/Naples first generation Zen based products and that production is just beginning to grow and GF will have plenty of 14nm Epyc/Naples business for the next few years. Second generation Epyc Rome SKUs will not really be impacting the market until 2020 as the cloud server enterprise customers will have that same longer perion of Vetting/Certification process for Epyc/Rome as customers had for First generation Zen based Epyc/Naples. Ditto for any of AMD's Ryzen Pro branded SKUs with 3+ years of service support etc.

So do you think that the Justice department will OK AMD's main comptitor purchasing GF while GF is still going to be providing AMD will Zen/Zeppelin DIEs that are needed for Epyc/Naples and frist generation Ryzen Pro production.

GF is still making money on 14nm and 12nm production and FD-SOI production on more mature nodes. GF will still be able to license others 7nm IP for any GF customers than need leading edge processes so most likely Samsung will License to GF its 7nm IP just like Samsung Licened its 14nm IP to GF for first generation Zen based Epyc/Naples production.

And this is new news:

"Santa Clara, Calif., November 1, 2018 – GLOBALFOUNDRIES today announced the establishment of Avera Semiconductor LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary dedicated to providing custom silicon solutions for a broad range of applications. Avera Semi will leverage deep ties with GF to deliver ASIC offerings on 14/12nm and more mature technologies while providing clients new capabilities and access to alternate foundry processes at 7nm and beyond." (1)

And here 7nm access is discussed:

"About Avera Semi

Avera Semi provides application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) semiconductor solutions that deliver system-level differentiation for next-generation networking, data center, machine learning, automotive, and aerospace and defense applications. The company was established in 2018 to provide clients sustained access to leading-edge lithography technologies at 7nm and beyond, while leveraging deep ties with GLOBALFOUNDRIES to deliver ASIC offerings on 14/12nm and older technologies. Avera Semi is a wholly owned subsidiary of GLOBALFOUNDRIES." (1)

So That 7nm Access means Licensed 7nm from Samsung most likely just like GF licensed Samsung's 14nm node. And GF, Samsung and IBM have been in a Fab Technology IP Sharing Partnership/Consortium for some many years now. So Avera Semi(Owned by GF) will probably be what IBM will be using for its Power9, power10 production needs in addition to any IBM Z series mainframe processors. Ditto for any OpenPower power9 licensees like Talos and Raptor systems(2).

"In the next couple of weeks they are expected to reveal pricing details. The Talos II Lite is currently Raptor's low-end offering at $1099 USD. Blackbird should be priced much lower than the Talos II Lite but just how low remains to be seen. It will almost certainly not be able to compete at the levels of the plethora of Intel/AMD motherboards due to economies of scale, but if they can at least make it much closer that would certainly be interesting.

For the IBM POWER9 processor pricing, the quad-core model starts at $375 USD while the octal-core model starts at $595 USD. So it might be possible to get a basic open-source POWER9 system for $1,000 USD or less (likely excluding current DDR4 prices...) which would be a significant development in this space." (2)

So just because GF is out of the In-House bleeding edge process node development competition does not mean that GF/Avera Semiconductor(wholly owned subsidiary of GLOBALFOUNDRIES) will not be able to License a 7nm process from Samsung/Others.


"GLOBALFOUNDRIES Introduces Avera Semi, a Wholly Owned Subsidiary to Deliver Custom ASIC Solutions"


"Raptor Computing Reveals More Details About Their Blackbird Low-Cost POWER9 Board"

November 1, 2018 | 12:20 PM - Posted by chipman (not verified)

"Not allowed under Justice Department review as that would reduce competition in the foundry market."

Glad to know GlobalFoundries couldn't file for bankruptcy to protect the competition... but who will pay for its debt?

November 4, 2018 | 07:58 PM - Posted by ChipDaftManIsMoreApropos (not verified)

No need for GF to file for 7 or 11 as without the revenue draining costs of 7nm development GF can actually show a modest profit on all its foundry business that's not involved with 7nm and bleading edge.

If you even really care about reading up on why GF dropped that 7nm development in the first place. GF/GF's wholly owned subsidiary can still license 7nm IP if it's needed by any GF/GF Subsidiary clients. GF's financials are better now that the 7nm costs are no longer there and all that SOI on whatever more mature node and GF's 14nm and 12nm nodes will still be available for customers that do not need any leading edge production for their products.

You really are not much of a chipman if you think that there are no fabs earning reveunes from 12nm, 14nm and even much larger and more mature nodes that cost a lot less than 7nm does. And GF will still be busy with AMD's 14nm Epyc/Naples production for a damn good while, 12nm AMD production also. GF will still be diffusing first generation Zen/Zeppelin DIEs at 14nm and Zen+ DIEs at 12nm for a while also.

Also if the DOD is so worried about US based 7nm/smaller fab production then let them pay for the cost of 7nm research and development inside of the United States. But GF made the wise decision for its current business reality and 7nm competition against Samsung and TSMC was simply to costly for GF's limited finances.

Maybe chipman really needs to read some real professional industry trade publications that are actually run by folks with actual post graduate degrees and stop relying on enthusiast press that not really that knowledgeable on the subject of any non PC only based Fab Industry news.

November 10, 2018 | 06:55 PM - Posted by chipman (not verified)

I'm afraid you're too blind to see the fact that GlobalFoundries lost a lot in its attempt to make its own 7 nm process (and for its own 14 nm too before licensing Samsung's 14 nm) and since GlobalFoundries is a private business, only private investors such as Mubadala (i.e. the main shareholder) can (but won't) tell how much they lost.

Maybe you really need to meet a doctor to cure your schizophrenia...

February 7, 2019 | 12:13 PM - Posted by Garcia (not verified)

I think much of your speculation is wrong.

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