The semiconductor manufacturer TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company), with customers that include AMD and Nvidia, reveals that the company has started “volume production” of chips at 28 nanometers. These new chips are primarily intended for use in next-generation graphics processors.
After a somewhat rocky start, TSMC is now in full swing with production of 28nm circuits for desktop and mobile GPUs, which is quite a shrink from the current 40nm. The new manufacturing process includes High Performance (28HP), High Performance Low Power (28HPL), Low Power (28LP) and High Performance Mobile Computing (28HPM). All but the high performance mobile computing versions are now ready for mass production, which echoes previous info regarding both AMD and Nvidia GPUs. In other words, we will have to wait a bit longer for the high-end parts, so it’s not time to replace your GTX 580M or HD 6990M just yet.
There’s a great deal of back-patting going on in Taiwan right now, with both AMD and Nvidia praising TSMC’s accomplishments.
“We applaud TSMC’s success bringing a robust 28nm process to market, and we look forward to leveraging the benefits of this new process when we ship our next-generation discrete graphics products,” says Matt Skynner, Corporate Vice President and General Manager of AMD’s GPU Division,. “The combination of AMD’s industry-leading graphics IP and TSMC’s manufacturing prowess will enable the next big leap in graphics performance with the parallel compute horsepower and power efficiency designed to meet the needs of even the most demanding gamer.”
“NVIDIA and TSMC have a history of delivering the most complex GPU architectures on state-of-the-art process nodes. This partnership has been among the industry’s most prolific, resulting in more than one billion GPUs shipped. Our close collaboration in developing 28nm processors will once again deliver the most energy-efficient GPUs and highest-performance graphics processors on the market,” says Jeff Fisher, Senior Vice President, GeForce Business Unit, NVIDIA.
It’s amazing that both company’s are apparently industry leaders. On the other hand, considering that they use the same factory to produce their products is shouldn’t be all that surprising that Nvidia and AMD are constantly neck-and-neck in the GPU race. In the end it’s a pretty good situation for the end user. TSMC’s biggest customers are AMD and Nvidia, which use TSMC to manufacture graphics processors, but Qualcomm also employs the company’s services to build its Snapdragon chips for smartphones and other mobile devices.
According to previous information (see the above links), AMD is set to launch the first models in its new South Islands family by the end of the year–at least the mainstream varieties–while Nvidia’s Kepler is expected to make its first appearance in 2012. The laptop graphics cards are first in line for an update, but as previously mentioned the high-end gaming varieties will have to wait a little longer.
According to TSMC, customers have already developed 80 tape-outs or chip designs for the new manufacturing process. At the same time it claims that the yield (the proportion of flawless circuits in a series) is even better than the existing 40nm generation.