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Eurocom Racer 2.0 Scores P22111 in 3DMark Vantage Powered by Radeon HD 7970M

Eurocom Corporation, a developer of long lifespan, fully upgradable Notebooks and Mobile Workstations has been testing the AMD Radeon HD 7970M in its new line of 3rd Generation Intel Core i7 (Ivy Bridge) powered notebooks. Eurocom technicians achieved a score of P22111 in 3DMark Vantage in the EUROCOM Racer and a score of P5848 in 3DMark 11.

The AMD Radeon HD 7970M is currently the highest performing mobile GPU by AMD, giving Eurocom customers a superior choice of video processor options to configure into their new Eurocom system or upgrade into their existing system. The addition of the AMD Radeon 7970M GPU offers customers a greater selection of video processor options to fit any preference or performance level

MSI Announces the GeForce GTX 670 with GPU Overvoltage

Today leading international mainboard and graphics card maker MSI officially announces the new GeForce GTX 670 graphics card featuring the latest 28nm GeForce GTX 670 GPU and 2GB GDDR5 memory; supports PCI Express 3.0 standard to provide better performance and power efficiency than previous generation. The GeForce GTX 670 graphics card features NVIDIA’s GPU Boost technology which allows the core clock to be automatically adjusted on the fly for optimal in-game performance.

When used with the MSI Afterburner overclocking utility, the power limit and clock offset can be adjusted as well for better overclocking capability; GPU overvoltage function to boost overclocking potential up to 22%! A single card is able to also support NVIDIA 3DVision Surround technology for up to four monitors to give gamers the best in-game experience.

MSI R7870 HAWK Takes To The Sky

Leading international graphics card and mainboard maker MSI today announced MSI R7870 Hawk, equipped with AMD's 28nm Radeon HD 7870 GPU. MSI introduce the flagship design concept of Lightning series into R7870 Hawk, adopting UnlockedDigitalPower that incorporates an Unlocked BIOS, DigitalPWM Controller, and Enhanced Power Design to boost overclocking potential and make overclocking easier than ever. With the industry first "GPU Reactor" power panel, it reduces power supply noise as well as increases overclocking stability. As for thermal solution, MSI R7870 Hawk utilizes the latest Twin Frozr IV Thermal Design with Dust Removal Technology.

The dual 8cm fan setup with PropellerBlade Technology generate massive airflow for fast heat dissipation while remaining whisper silent. The two form-in-one heatsinks improve cooling for memory and the power module as well ensure structural integrity. The R7870 Hawk uses Military Class III components which have passed rigorous testing to meet MILSTD810G standards, guaranteeing the card's stability and reliability under actual use conditions. Moreover, the "3X3 OC Kits" are designed to simplify overclocking, which makes it easier for users to fine-tune their graphics cards. Competing with flagship design of Lightning series, R7870 Hawk absolutely stands out on top among the industry's HD 7870 based graphics cards.

NVIDIA Credits Close Collaboration with TSMC for Kepler's Energy Efficiency

Despite the fact that NVIDIA is frantically seeking out other semiconductor foundries for high-volume manufacturing its 28 nm chip designs, and despite some looming irritants, NVIDIA appears to value its relationship with TSMC highly. NVIDIA's senior vice president for Advanced Technology Group Joe Greco, in a recent company blog post, credited close collaboration with TSMC for the stellar energy-efficiency (performance/Watt) figures NVIDIA's Kepler architecture has been able to achieve.

"The advancement that TSMC offered was a new optimized process technology. Kepler is manufactured using TSMC’s 28nm high performance (HP) process, the foundry’s most advanced 28nm process which uses their first-generation high-K metal gate (HKMG) technology and second generation SiGe (Silicon Germanium) straining," read the blog post. "Using TSMC’s 28nm HP process enabled us to reduce active power by about 15 percent and leakage by about 50 percent compared to 40nm, resulting in an overall improvement in power efficiency of about 35 percent (see charts)."

GLOBALFOUNDRIES Fab 8 Adds Tools to Enable 3D Chip Stacking at 20nm and Beyond

GLOBALFOUNDRIES today announced a significant milestone on the road to enabling 3D stacking of chips for next-generation mobile and consumer applications. At its Fab 8 campus in Saratoga County, NY, the company has begun installation of a special set of production tools to create Through-Silicon Vias (TSVs) in semiconductor wafers processed on the company’s leading-edge 20nm technology platform. The TSV capabilities will allow customers to stack multiple chips on top of each other, providing another avenue for delivering the demanding requirements of tomorrow’s electronic devices.

Essentially vertical holes etched in silicon and filled with copper, TSVs enable communication between vertically stacked integrated circuits. For example, the technology could allow circuit designers to place stacks of memory chips on top of an application processor, which can dramatically increase memory bandwidth and reduce power consumption—a key challenge for designers of the next generation of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

TSMC 28 nm Capacity Ramp-Up Faster Than Older Processes

With launches of new-generation GPUs by NVIDIA and AMD, and new ARM application processor designs by various industry players, TSMC is under pressure to ramp up its production capacity for its new 28 nanometer note. DigiTimes research suggests that this ramp-up is going at a faster rate than older processes such as 40 nm and 65 nm nodes (when those were new). Digitimes Research analyst Nobunaga Chai claims that the 28 nm node started generating revenues in Q4, 2011, and sales ratio reached 5% in the following quarter. It is anticipated to see TSMC significantly ramp up its 28nm production capacity later in 2012, Chai believes.

Source: DigiTimes

TSMC Expanding 28 nm Manufacturing Facility

With the advent of highly-complex 28 nm discrete PC graphics processors, and ARM designers lined up with their increasingly powerful SoCs, TSMC is bound to see a pile up of orders for chips built on its newest bulk manufacturing process. In view of this, the "messiah of the fabless" is planning an expansion of its 28 nm manufacturing facility. This expansion is set to occur a little later in 2012. TSMC reportedly is running at full capacity at its 12-inch fabs because of strong demand for 28 nm as well as 40 nm and 65 nm. Due to this, some designers are approaching TSMC's competitors UMC and Samsung for 28 nm bulk manufacturing, according to sources. The expansion will follow a revision of TSMC's capex target for 2012, up from US $6 billion.

Source: DigiTimes

AMD Launches Graphics Triple Play: 3 GPUs in 3 Months, Availability of HD 7800 Series

AMD today reached a major milestone in the graphics industry with worldwide availability of its full line of next generation AMD Radeon HD 7000 Series GPUs in less than three months. Starting in December, AMD launched the AMD Radeon HD 7900 Series, followed in February by the AMD Radeon HD 7700 Series and completed today with availability of the AMD Radeon HD 7800 Series graphics cards.

“Bringing the first 28nm graphics cards to market in December spurred us to continue pushing the boundaries, product after product, culminating with today’s product availability,” said Zvika Greenstein, director of product management, GPU Division, AMD. “Look at our feature set: Graphics Core Next, AMD Eyefinity 2.0, AMD PowerTune, AMD ZeroCore Power technologies and of course our GHz Edition graphics cards – it is without doubt that AMD stands alone in the graphics industry.”

NVIDIA Kepler Yields Lower Than Expected.

NVIDIA seems to be playing the blame game according to a article over at Xbit. This is what they had to say, "Chief executive officer of NVIDIA Corp. said that besides continuously increasing capital expenditures that the company ran into in the recent months will be accompanied by lower than expected gross margins in the forthcoming quarter. The company blames low yields of the next-generation code-named Kepler graphics chips that are made at TSMC’s 28nm node. “Decline [of gross margin] in Q1 is expected to be due to the hard disk drive shortage continuing, as well as a shortage of 28nm wafers. We are ramping our Kepler generation very hard, and we could use more wafers. The gross margin decline is contributed almost entirely to the yields of 28nm being lower than expected. That is, I guess, unsurprising at this point,” said Jen-Hsun Huang, chief executive officer of NVIDIA, during a conference call with financial analysts.

NVIDIA’s operating expenses have been increasing for about a year now: from $329.6 million in Q1 FY2012 to $367.7 million in Q4 FY2012 and expects OpEx to be around $383 million in the ongoing Q1 FY2013. At the same time, the company expects its gross margins in Q1 FY2013 to decline below 50% for the first time in many quarters to 49.2%. Nvidia has very high expectations for its Kepler generation of graphics processing units (GPUs). The company claims that it had signed contracts to supply mobile versions of GeForce “Kepler” chips with every single PC OEM in the world. In fact, NVIDIA says Kepler is the best graphics processor ever designed by the company. [With Kepler, we] won design wins at virtually every single PC OEM in the world. So, this is probably the best GPU we have ever built and the performance and power efficiency is surely the best that we have ever created,” said Mr. Huang.

AMD Reports Fourth Quarter and Annual Results

AMD (NYSE:AMD) today announced revenue for the fourth quarter of 2011 of $1.69 billion, net loss of $177 million, or $0.24 per share, and operating income of $71 million. The company reported non-GAAP net income of $138 million, or $0.19 per share, and non-GAAP operating income of $172 million. Fourth quarter non-GAAP net income excludes an impairment of AMD's investment in GLOBALFOUNDRIES of $209 million, restructuring charges of $98 million, the loss from discontinued operations of $4 million, the amortization of acquired intangible assets of $3 million and a loss on debt repurchase of $1 million.

For the year ended December 31, 2011, AMD reported revenue of $6.57 billion, net income of $491 million, or $0.66 per share, and operating income of $368 million. Full year non-GAAP net income was $374 million, or $0.50 per share, and non-GAAP operating income was $524 million.

28 nm struggles: TSMC & GlobalFoundries

Making silicon chips is not easy, requiring hugely expensive fabs, with massive clean-room environments and at every process shrink, the complexity and difficulty of making the things goes up significantly. It looks like TSMC and GlobalFoundries are both having serious yield problems with their 28 nm process nodes, according to Mike Bryant, technology analyst at Future Horizons and this is causing a rash of non-working wafers – to the point of having nothing working with some chip designs submitted for production. It seems that the root cause of these problems are to do with the pressures of bringing products to market, rather than an inherent problem with the technology; it just takes time that they haven't got to iron out the kinks and they're getting stuck: "Foundries have come under pressure to release cell libraries too early – which end up with designs that don't work," Bryant said. In an effort to try and be seen to treat every customer equally, TSMC is attempting to launch ten 28 nm designs from seven companies, but it's not working out too well: "At 45-nm, only NVIDIA was affected. At 28-nm any problems for TSMC will be problems for many customers" said Bryant.

Taiwan Foundries Cut Prices

Taiwan foundries are going to be cutting prices by 10 to 15% for wafers built on mature node processes. Since these wafers have lower production costs the foundries are passing on the savings. This move is to boost consumer confidence in building their inventory after a year of shaky ground in the U.S. and European markets. This according to DigiTimes.

Also DigiTimes is reporting despite slow demand for mature process manufacturing, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) continues to see orders heat up for advanced 28nm technology, according to sources at non Taiwan-based chip suppliers.

This news could mean that these same vendors that are getting a cut in overhead thanks to the foundries could pass on the savings to the end customer to boost revenue.

Source: DigiTimes

AMD Introduces the Radeon HD 7970 Graphics Card, The 28nm Era Begins

AMD Introduces the Radeon HD 7970 Graphics Card, The 28 nm Era Begins

Bring ye a fresh set of bragging rights because today AMD has (paper) launched the first graphics card powered by a 28 nm GPU, the Radeon HD 7970. Equipped with one Tahiti chip, this new, high-end offering is the first to make use of the GCN (Graphics Core Next) architecture which is claimed to deliver an improvement 'of over 150% in performance/sq mm over the prior generation.'

The Radeon HD 7970 also adopts the PCI Express 3.0 standard (which ensures a large, healthy bandwidth), and implements the PowerTune and AMD ZeroCore Power technologies that allow for 'higher performance levels while maximizing power efficiencies'.

AMD Starts Shipping 28 nm GPUs for Revenue

AMD CEO Rory Read, speaking at the IT Supply Chain conference organized by Raymond James this Tuesday, said that his company had begun shipping 28 nm GPUs for revenue (meaning, in volumes big enough to fetch revenue). With it, AMD fulfilled its promise to be the first to the market with GPUs built on the 28 nm silicon fab process. AMD's foundry partner for these chips is TSMC. "We are ramping 28nm [products] with TSMC in Taiwan and shipping the products here and now. We are very excited about the products," said Read.

At the upcoming CES event, AMD will formally unveil a range of products that will use its 28 nm GPUs. CES will give AMD a good opportunity to bag design wins with large volume manufacturers of notebooks and PCs. What this means for the enthusiast community is that whenever AMD does launch its Radeon HD 7900 series, it won't be a "paper-launch".

Source: X-bit Labs

GLOBALFOUNDRIES and ARM Deliver Optimized SoC Solution based on ARM Cortex-A Series

GLOBALFOUNDRIES and ARM today revealed the latest advances in their longstanding collaboration to deliver optimized system-on-chip (SoC) solutions for ARM Cortex-A series processor designs using ARM Artisan advanced physical IP and GLOBALFOUNDRIES’ leading-edge process technologies. The companies announced the industry’s first test chip based on a dual-core Cortex-A9 processor operating at frequencies of more than 2.5GHz. In addition, a 20nm tape out using GLOBALFOUNDRIES’ Technology Qualification Vehicle (TQV) was also announced for SoCs based on Cortex-A9 processors.

The two companies worked closely together to develop a TQV strategy that allows GLOBALFOUNDRIES to optimize its advanced process technology for customer designs based on Cortex-A series processors. The solution is more than a standard test chip. Each TQV is designed to emulate a full specification SoC and aims to improve performance, lower power consumption and facilitate a faster path to market for foundry customers.

AMD Tahiti (Radeon HD 7900) Graphics Card Seen in the Nude

Today may be a Fringe-less Friday but worry not, there are plenty of thing to do like contemplating the two recently-leaked images of an AMD Tahiti-powered graphics card. Tahiti is a 'next-gen' GPU built on TSMC's 28 nm process that's supposed to be at the heart of the Radeon HD 7900 series models (the HD 7950, HD 7970, and then probably the dual-GPU HD 7990).

The card seen below comes with one Tahiti chip protected by a heatspreader/shield (only the die is exposed) and has a red PCB, a 5+1-phase PWM, two BIOSes, two PCIe power plugs, CrossFire connectors enabling quad-GPU configurations, and 12 memory chips which support previous reports of a 384-bit memory interface.

The Radeon HD 7900 series cards are rumored to debut in January at CES 2012 (January 10-13) so we still have one month of leaks to look forward to. Oh, and the winter holidays.

Source: VR-Zone

Fujitsu and SuVolta Demo ULV Operation of SRAM Down to ~0.4V

Fujitsu Semiconductor Limited and SuVolta, Inc. today announced that they have successfully demonstrated ultra-low-voltage operation of SRAM (static random access memory) blocks down to 0.425V by integrating SuVolta's PowerShrink low-power CMOS platform into Fujitsu Semiconductor's low-power process technology. By reducing power consumption, these technologies will make possible the ultimate in "ecological" products in the near future. Technology details and results will be presented at the 2011 International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM) being held in Washington DC, starting December 5th.

Controlling power consumption is the primary limiter of adding features to product types ranging from mobile electronics to tethered servers and networking equipment. The biggest contributor to power consumption is supply voltage. Previously, the power supply voltage of CMOS steadily reduced to approximately 1.0V at the 130nm technology node, but it has not reduced much further as technology has scaled to the 28nm node. To reduce the power supply voltage, one of the biggest obstacles is the minimum operating voltage of embedded SRAM blocks.

Are Improving Integrated Graphics Slowly Killing Off Discrete Graphics Cards?

Intel started the trend of improving integrated graphics with their second generation LGA1155 socket Core i3, i5 & i7 line of processors. Depending on the model, these processors sport integrated HD2000 or HD3000 graphics right on the processor die, which nowadays give acceptable performance for low-end gaming and can play Full HD 1080p video perfectly. This trend is increasing with the upcoming Ivy Bridge processors, which will be able to support a massive 4096 x 4096 pixel display, as we reported here. AMD now also have equivalent products with their Llano-based A-series processors. So, where does this leave discrete graphics cards? Well, the low end market is certainly seeing reduced sales, as there really isn't enough of a performance difference nowadays to always warrant an upgrade from an IGP. As integrated graphics improve further, one can see how this will hurt sales of higher end graphics cards too. The problem is that the bulk of the profit comes not from the top-end powerhouse graphics cards, but from the low to mid-end cards which allow these companies to remain in business, so cannibalizing sales of these products to integrated graphics could make high-end graphics cards a much more niche product and crucially, much more expensive with to boot.

TSMC 28 nm Technology in Volume Production

TSMC today announced that its 28nm process is in volume production and production wafers have been shipped to customers. TSMC leads the foundry segment to achieve volume production at 28nm node.

TSMC’s 28nm process offering includes 28nm High Performance (28HP), 28nm High Performance Low Power (28HPL), 28nm Low Power (28LP), and 28nm High Performance Mobile Computing (28HPM). Among these technology offerings, 28HP, 28HPL and 28LP are all in volume production and 28HPM will be ready for production by the end of this year. The production-version design collateral of 28HPM has been distributed to most mobile computing customers for their product-design use.

AMD Showcases its First 28 nm GPU

AMD showed off its first graphics processor (GPU) built on TSMC's cutting-edge 28 nanometer silicon fabrication process, the next foundry process standard for discrete GPUs. Bulk manufacturing at TSMC's Fab 15 facility at 28 nm is still taking shape, TSMC will take volume orders only later this year. For the moment, it can run small batches for designers to test their designs. The GPU was running on a mobile platform (pictured below, the red PCB), cooled by a compact copper-channel air cooler, leading us to believe that this is a mainstream segment GPU, if not lower. The demo platform was showcased running DirectX 11 title Dirt 3. Besides that, absolutely no other details were shared, not even a company codename for the GPU board.

Source: TechConnect Magazine

AMD's Next-Generation Wichita and Krishna APUs Detailed

In its latest presentation to industry partners, AMD detailed its upcoming Deccan low-power computing platform, targeting the market Intel's Atom and VIA's Nano processors do. AMD is currently behind the "Zacate" and "Ontario" processors, which deliver high performance/watt x86 computing at low power draw and costs. The company's future platform will be called "Deccan," consisting of processors codenamed "Wichita" and "Krishna," targeting the ULV desktop and netbook markets, respectively. With the next generation, AMD is looking to take advantage of the 28 nanometer manufacturing process to put four x86-64 cores based on the Bobcat architecture on a single piece of silicon, with an integrated memory controller and AMD Radeon discrete-class graphics.

The biggest change here isn't the fact that there are four cores, or that it's built on 28 nm, but that Wichita and Krishna are completely single-chip. The FCH or Fusion Controller Hub has been completely fused into the APU silicon. Motherboards and notebook logic boards will have just one big chip, with no "chipset" of any form. This makes AMD's Wichita and Krishna the industry's very first true x86-based consumer SoC (system on chip). The integrated memory controller now supports DDR3-1600 MHz memory. The integrated AMD Radeon graphics is set to get a performance and SIMD boost, as well, including a Secure Asset Management Unit (SAMU). AMD's next generation APUs are slated for 2012.

Source: DonanimHaber

GLOBALFOUNDRIES Fabs in New York and Dresden Achieve Ready for Equipment Milestone

Just over one year after revealing plans for a major global capacity expansion, GLOBALFOUNDRIES today announced its newly constructed cleanrooms in New York and Dresden are ready for the installation of 300mm semiconductor wafer fabrication equipment. Achieving “Ready for Equipment” (RFE) status marks the transition from the construction phase to the operations phase—a significant milestone on the path to volume manufacturing in these new facilities.

“At GLOBALFOUNDRIES, we continue to invest aggressively in driving sustained growth on advanced technologies,” said GLOBALFOUNDRIES CEO Ajit Manocha. “The build-out of our 300mm manufacturing campuses in New York and Dresden is supporting growing customer demand for advanced technologies, while creating hundreds of jobs and providing a significant boost to the economies in the surrounding regions. By completing these massive construction projects on schedule and on budget, we are continuing to deliver on our commitment to being the only truly global foundry.”

Foundry Delays to Push Back NVIDIA Kepler Launch to 2012

It looks like foundry issues are back to slow down the launch of NVIDIA's next generation high-end GPU, codenamed Kepler. The delay may push Kepler's launch to 2012, it was expected to launch by late 2011. The 28 nanometer silicon fabrication process at TSMC, a principal foundry partner of NVIDIA, is producing unsatisfactory yields. Add to that, Kepler's performance is lower than expected.

TSMC's 28 nm process at Fab 15 facility has already seen delays, which have even shaped AMD's designs in a big way. AMD had originally planned to design high-end VLIW4 chips on the 32 nm process at TSMC, but later decided to wait for the 28 nm process, leading to plans of 32 nm GPUs being scrapped by both GPU designers. TSMC was supposed to be in a position take orders of high-end 28 nm GPUs by Q4 2011, and was set to start pilot production for its 20nm process technology in the third quarter of 2012.

TSMC Reiterates 28 nm Readiness by Q4 2011

TSMC reiterated that it will be ready with a 28 nanometer manufacturing process by Q4 2011. The semiconductor company handles manufacturing of graphics processors for both AMD and NVIDIA. After the current 40 nm process, 32 nm, the next milestone process, was canceled for GPU makers to leap to 28 nm, this caused the foundry transition to the next process to take longer than usual. The current 40 nm process already seems to be saturated by GPUs with over 3 billion transistors, which are barely able to maintain acceptable thermal specs without using some sort of power-load throttling mechanism.

TSMC Chairman and CEO, Morris Chang, confirmed that tape-outs will be starting as early as in Q3, and production of 28 nm chips will start in Q4. Chang expects that up to 3% of TSMC's revenues will be made from 28 nm chips by the end of the year. "We plan to have around 2% or 3% of our total revenue in the fourth quarter [to] be 28nm. The tape-outs of the 28-nanaometer will start to ramp in the second half, starting in the third quarter and then more in the fourth quarter. But the real momentum [for 28nm], we believe, will be next year," Chang said. Apart from GPUs, the 28 nm process will also benefit ARM processors, with multi-core ARM chips clocked at 3 GHz being on cards. The 28 nm bulk process will also dish out AMD's next generation accelerated processing units (APUs).Source: X-bit Labs

ARM and TSMC Sign Long-Term Strategic Agreement

ARM and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, Ltd. (TWSE: 2330, NYSE: TSM) today jointly announced a long-term agreement that provides TSMC with access to a broad range of ARM processors and enables the development of ARM physical IP across TSMC technology nodes. This agreement supports the companies’ mutual customers to achieve optimized Systems-On-Chip (SoC) based on ARM processors and covers a wide range of process nodes extending down to 20nm.

The agreement provides TSMC access to optimize the implementation of ARM processors on TSMC process technologies, including ARM Cortex processor family and CoreLink interconnect fabric for AMBA protocols. It also establishes a long-term relationship with ARM for the development of physical IP, including memory products and standard cell libraries targeting the most advanced TSMC 28nm and 20nm processes.
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