On Friday Josh posted a look behind the scenes of the changes in production processes by the companies that make the chips we all love so much and the effect it is having on the release schedules of their clients. While process shrinking is certainly a good thing, allow transistor density to increase and generally lowering power consumption and heat production. As he has pointed out, all is not necessarily peaches and cream when a Fab switches as they are generally starting not only a new shrunken process but also have to introduce new materials into the chip design process to allow for the more compact die size. This is causing more than a few teething pains in the GPU industry right now.
Not all is bad news from TSMC and decision to jump to the 28nm half node, a decision that is a fair sized part of the reason we are seeing trouble in GPU release schedules. According to DigiTimes they are looking at early 2011 as the target date for the beginning of their large scale production of 28nm chips. Fingers crossed that we do not see a repeat of the issues present when they first started releasing their 40nm chips.
"Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has been adjusting its 28nm equipment to a manufacturing readiness maturity level of over 90%, and will start volume production using 28nm process as soon as possible in 2011, according to the company.
TSMC has made significant progress in upward adjusting the manufacturing readiness of 28nm equipment at its Fab 12 in the Hsinchu Science Park HSP), with the maturity level hiked from less than 50% in the fourth quarter of 2009 to more than 90% currently, the company indicated. The more advanced the manufacturing processes, the lower the initial manufacturing readiness of equipment and more efforts needed for adjustments, TSMC said, adding 90nm equipment, for example, has an initial maturity level of nearly 100% and almost does not need any adjustment, TSMC explained.
TSMC has many clients for its 28nm process, including Xilinx, Altera, Nvidia, AMD and Qualcomm, and has attained tape-out for 71 IC products. The 28nm production capacity will be fully utilized by the end of 2011, TSMC noted.
In addition to 28nm, TSMC has urged its suppliers of equipment and materials to speed up R&D for 20nm process."
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