Monday, 28 November 2011 06:43

The Race to 28nm Should be Interesting

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siliconThe race to 28nm is going to be an interesting one. Both AMD and nVidia already have working silicon models but neither are ready to start shipping parts to the market. The biggest reason for this is the fact that TSMC (Taiwanese Silicon Manufacturing Company) is having problems with the transition to full scale 28nm production. This is despite the fact that they began the move more than three years ago. Back in 2008 TSMC announced they would begin the move to 28nm and start full scale production on 28nm High-K Metal Gate (HKMG) and Silicon Oxynitride (SiON) materials by 2010. We are now moving into the end of 2011 and we are still hearing about issues with yields on these parts.

TSMC can claim that their 28nm line is a success because they are manufacturing other parts at 28nm such as NAND flash chips etc. The problem is that neither AMD nor nVidia can afford to push their products to market with their current 28nm yields. This is an important lesson learned from past launches at 40nm. If you remember, both AMD and nVidia had serious availability issues when they launched their respective products.

However, AMD does seem to have an upper hand in the 28nm race and expects to put their new Southern Islands parts in the hands of consumers in late January 2012. What is unusual is that AMD will be dropping their desktop parts first. Typically with a die shrink companies will opt to release the simpler mobile parts and perfect their designs before running the higher end (and more expensive) desktop products.  On the other hand, nVidia appears to be waiting for Ivy Bridge’s launch in mid to late April of next year before dropping their new 28nm Keppler parts.

As there is no expected change in the state of Direct X this should put the graphics market in an interesting situation. If AMD can get good yields and the new products are solid they could have a very healthy lead as nVidia’s development budget will not factor into sales like it did during the DX11 change. It is also important to consider that if nVidia waits too much past April for their desktop parts AMD will enjoy the sales of the non-reference parts to overclockers and enthusiasts before nVidia can even get their reference parts out in the open. It should make for an entertaining situation…

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Read 10597 times Last modified on Monday, 28 November 2011 06:50

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