Tuesday, April 17th 2012

NVIDIA Approaching Other Foundries than TSMC for 28 nm Production

NVIDIA, along with Qualcomm, is reportedly in talks with foundries other than TSMC, for manufacturing of its new 28 nm chips. Despite the fact that TSMC is ramping up its 28 nm capacity at a breakneck pace, NVIDIA is seeing a shortage of production that could affect its competitiveness. An interesting revelation here is that NVIDIA has begun sampling its GPUs on Samsung's 28 nanometer fab process. Samsung uses this process for contract-manufacturing of ARM application processors. Other foundries with proven 28 nm manufacturing capability include UMC.

Source: DigiTimes
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21 Comments on NVIDIA Approaching Other Foundries than TSMC for 28 nm Production

#1
FreedomEclipse
~Technological Technocrat~
well...sometimes breakneck pace just isnt good enough. there is a serious shortage of 680s though I admit
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#3
Flibolito
Last I heard they did contact intel, but no word on what came of it, would be sweet though.
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#4
Katanai
Good! I think that Nvidia + Samsung would do a much better team for producing my GPU than Nvidia and this joke of a manufacturer that has been proven unreliable throughout these years. I am someone who still remembers the 800 series problems and how everybody blamed Nvidia for it although it was clearly a manufacturing problem and TSMC were the ones responsible for it. Good riddance I say!
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#5
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
by: Chaitanya
what about intels fab?
Intel lacks 28 nm. There's 25 nm (NAND flash, IMFlash JV), and there's 22 nm (processors). Optical-shrinking Kepler to any of those will take another 4 months (sampling, testing, qualification, moar testing, mass production).

Besides, NVIDIA will not risk giving its designs to Intel (a GPU competitor, which could steal its designs for processor graphics).
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#6
Delta6326
Would changing fab's do anything to the performance?
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#7
xenocide
by: Delta6326
Would changing fab's do anything to the performance?
It shouldn't have an effect on the actual Performance, it's more about availability. What good is Nvidia having the most powerful single GPU if they can't stock shelves ANYWHERE with it? They are still delaying releasing the rest of their line as well, because of a lack of supply from TSMC. The only problem with this is that to my knowledge TSMC is really the only company with any capacity for 28nm products. I know GloFo is working on it, but they are nowhere near what TSMC can offer.

EDIT: Just read the end of the article, was unaware Samsung had a 28nm line.
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#8
Isenstaedt
by: Katanai
I am someone who still remembers the 800 series problems and how everybody blamed Nvidia for it although it was clearly a manufacturing problem and TSMC were the ones responsible for it.
800 series?
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#9
radrok
by: btarunr
Intel lacks 28 nm. There's 25 nm (NAND flash, IMFlash JV), and there's 22 nm (processors). Optical-shrinking Kepler to any of those will take another 4 months (sampling, testing, qualification, moar testing, mass production).

Besides, NVIDIA will not risk giving its designs to Intel (a GPU competitor, which could steal its designs for processor graphics).
I just imagined an Intel CPU paired with Kepler based IGP, wow that'd be awesome for notebooks
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#10
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
by: radrok
I just imagined an Intel CPU paired with Kepler based IGP, wow that'd be awesome for notebooks
It's called NVIDIA Optimus.
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#11
BiggieShady
by: radrok
I just imagined an Intel CPU paired with Kepler based IGP, wow that'd be awesome for notebooks
For Nvidia GPU to be an IGP in Intel's CPU, Intel would have to buy NVIDIA (just as AMD had to buy Ati). Nvidia's market value is about $7.3 billion and Intel although worth $143 billion has about $7.5 billion in cash, so right now Intel would have to get into substantial debt for this transaction. It could be happening in couple of years if Intel continues to grow at this rate.
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#12
ensabrenoir
by: BiggieShady
For Nvidia GPU to be an IGP in Intel's CPU, Intel would have to buy NVIDIA (just as AMD had to buy Ati). Nvidia's market value is about $7.3 billion and Intel although worth $143 billion has about $7.5 billion in cash, so right now Intel would have to get into substantial debt for this transaction. It could be happening in couple of years if Intel continues to grow at this rate.
true...nvidia is still relatively healthy and it would be pricey....long term though it might be worth it. Some of intel latest actions(or could be my overactive imagination:laugh:) lead me to believe they have or are on the verge of making some serious headway in the graphics department.
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#13
Katanai
by: Isenstaedt
800 series?
It was a typo. I hate this keyboard!!!
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#14
NC37
Saw this coming. All those problems TSMC has had. Was waiting for one company to get smart and think..."gee, maybe we can get this made elsewhere without the hassle and problems?" Go NV!
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#15
marsey99
why you wait so long nv?

i mean its not like tsmc have been faultless in the past as most of nv issues the past 5 years have been caused at the fab.
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#16
Benetanegia
by: btarunr
Intel lacks 28 nm. There's 25 nm (NAND flash, IMFlash JV), and there's 22 nm (processors). Optical-shrinking Kepler to any of those will take another 4 months (sampling, testing, qualification, moar testing, mass production).
AFAIK changing to another foundry also requires more testing and qualification. And Samsung's 28nm is gate-first, unlike TSMC's gate-last process, so that surely means a lot of work to change.

If Nvidia is decided to change to another foundry, it means it's ready to loose a few months testing the new process and if that is the case, I'm sure they wouldn't mind spending a few extra weeks if that means making their GPUs on a much smaller and reliable process, such as Intel's 22nm.
Besides, NVIDIA will not risk giving its designs to Intel (a GPU competitor, which could steal its designs for processor graphics).
I don't think that's a real problem right now. First of all making the hardware is not the most difficult task for a company doing processors for 40 years, it's the drivers what really makes the difference between a CPU an a GPU. HD3000 and specially HD4000 are already a very decent piece of hardware for their size.

Second and most important, Nvidia already shared their patents when they settled the lawsuit with Intel, so I don't think there's much more secrets to be found in the "silicon". IMHO any secrets/tricks that might be found on silicon (power reduction, lower latency, higher clock...) probably Intel knows better*.

And in fact, Nvidia CEO already called Intel to start making ARM chips on contract. Newer Tegras will have Kepler GPU inside so they surely aren't very concerned about Intel stealing anything if they want Intel to make future Tegras for them.

* BTW who's to say that a lot of the improvements in Kepler didn't come from the patents Intel shared as part of the deal? Even GPU Boost is similar to Turbo Boost, in the name too, where you might risk a lawsuit.
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#17
Jonap_1st
well, AMD didn't have any big problem with TSMC. it's kepler low yields that made 680 scarce..
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#18
cadaveca
My name is Dave
by: Jonap_1st
well, AMD didn't have any big problem with TSMC. it's kepler low yields that made 680 scarce..
You say AMD did not have any problems, however, cards release with 925 default clock when nearly every one hits over 1 GHz and then some. To me, this indicates wildly varied silicon quality, as the 1 GHz milestone is too big to skip over with a flagship GPU. They did not release these GPUs @ 1 GHz, to me, becuase they couldn't, and that indicates a problem.

Seems to me that AMD's success is related to the number of wafers they purchased, and nvidia cannot get enough wafers, so is looking elsewhere. It doesn't realyl indicate rel problems at TSMC, other than that they cannot meet consumer(OEMs are their consumers) demand.

If nVidia is sampling Samsung process already, they are running wafers out to verify yields.
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#19
Jonap_1st
by: cadaveca
You say AMD did not have any problems, however, cards release with 925 default clock when nearly every one hits over 1 GHz and then some. To me, this indicates wildly varied silicon quality, as the 1 GHz milestone is too big to skip over with a flagship GPU. They did not release these GPUs @ 1 GHz, to me, becuase they couldn't, and that indicates a problem.

Seems to me that AMD's success is related to the number of wafers they purchased, and nvidia cannot get enough wafers, so is looking elsewhere. It doesn't realyl indicate rel problems at TSMC, other than that they cannot meet consumer(OEMs are their consumers) demand.

If nVidia is sampling Samsung process already, they are running wafers out to verify yields.
ahh.., so it's like AMD bought nearly an entire for what TSMC had selled on their store, and nvidia only get a tip of it. maybe in the future whoever got the contract faster and had succesfully made sure that their chip yields is on good amount have the bigger chance to avoid shortage like what happen to nvidia right now, they starting to loose interest from customer..
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#20
Steevo
AMD/ATI has almost always been to new process first. They just capitalized on it this go around, and Nvidia didn't let the same mistake with power gating occur again.
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#21
blibba
by: Delta6326
Would changing fab's do anything to the performance?
No, but it could have the effect of every chip coming of the production line like the best binned ones from a poorer fab - meaning lower stable voltages (and thus power consumption) or higher stable frequencies (and thus performance).
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