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TSMC 16FinFET Plus Process Achieves Risk Production Milestone

TSMC today announced its 16-nanometer FinFET Plus (16FF+) process is now in risk production. This enhanced version of TSMC's 16FF process operates 40% faster than the company's planar 20-nanometer system-on-chip (20SoC) process, or consumes 50% less power at the same speed. It offers customers a new level of performance and power optimization targeted at the next generation of high-end mobile, computing, networking, and consumer applications.

TSMC's 16nm process offers an extended scaling of advanced SoC designs and is verified to reach speeds of 2.3GHz with ARM's "big" Cortex-A57 in high-speed applications while consuming as little as 75mW with the "LITTLE" Cortex-A53 in low-power applications. It is making excellent progress in yield learning, and has achieved the best technology maturity at the same corresponding stage as compared to all TSMC's previous nodes.

AMD to Give 20 nm Optical Shrinks to Console SoCs First

AMD has the unique distinction of supplying SoCs to all three leading game console vendors simultaneously - Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo. The company, like NVIDIA, is looking forward with perched eyes for manufacturing partner TSMC to get its 20 nanometer silicon fabrication node running full-cylinders. Unlike NVIDIA, which may use the new process to shrink its GPUs, or launch bigger chips based on its "Maxwell" architecture, AMD will treat its console SoCs with optical-shrinks to the new nodes first, so the company could immediately eke out better margins, as console gamers upgrade to Xbox One or the PlayStation 4.

AMD's SoC for the Xbox One, could be the first in line for this optical shrink to 20 nm. This chip features a transistor count of 5 billion, and houses eight 64-bit x86 CPU cores, and a 768 SP GPU based on the Graphics CoreNext architecture; 48 MB of on-die cache, and a quad-channel DDR3 IMC. The chip also features an integrated core logic. AMD's chip for the PlayStation 4 features design inputs from Sony. The chip features the same CPU component, but a 1152 SP GPU, and a 256-bit wide GDDR5 memory interface, wired to 8 GB of memory that's virtualized for both system- and graphics-memory. The 20 nm shrinks of both chips are expected to lower not just manufacturing costs, but also step up energy-efficiency, which could then let Microsoft and Sony save additional costs on other components, such as power and cooling.


Source: Expreview

TSMC and ARM Unveil Roadmap for 64-bit ARM-based Processors on 10FinFET Process

ARM and TSMC today announced a new multi-year agreement that will deliver ARMv8-A processor IP optimized for TSMC 10FinFET process technology. Because of the success in scaling from 20SoC to 16FinFET, ARM and TSMC have decided to collaborate again for 10FinFET. This early pathfinding work will provide valuable learning to enable physical design IP and methodologies in support of customers to tape-out 10FinFET designs as early as Q4 2015.

"ARM and TSMC are industry leaders in our respective fields and collectively ensure the availability of leading-edge solutions for ARM-based SoCs through our deep and long-term collaboration," said Pete Hutton, executive vice president and president, product groups, ARM. "Our mutual commitment to providing industry leading solutions drives us to work together early in the development cycle to optimize both the processor and the process node. This joint optimization enables ARM silicon partners to design, tape-out and bring their products to market faster."

TSMC Delivers First Fully Functional 16FinFET Networking Processor

TSMC today announced that its collaboration with HiSilicon Technologies Co, Ltd. has successfully produced the foundry segment's first fully functional ARM-based networking processor withFinFET technology. This milestone is a strong testimonial to deep collaboration between the two companies and TSMC's commitment to providing industry-leading technology to meet the increasing customer demand for the next generation of high-performance, energy-efficient devices.

TSMC's 16FinFET process promises impressive speed and power improvements as well as leakage reduction. All of these advantages overcome challenges that have become critical barriers to further scaling of advanced SoC technology. It has twice the gate density of TSMC's 28HPM process, and operates more than 40% faster at the same total power, or reduces total power over 60% at the same speed.

TSMC May Lose 16 nm and 14 nm Market Share to Competitors in 2015: Chairman

TSMC may lose out on orders to competing fabs on the 16 nanometer (nm) and 14 nm nodes, in terms of market share, in 2015, according to company chairman Morris Chang. Chips built on the 16 nm node will amount to single-digit percentages of the company's output in the year. Samsung Electronics is expected to take the lead on these processes, as it just netted orders from Qualcomm, a major mobile baseband chip and SoC designer.

Chang stressed that 20 nm and 16 nm will drive revenue for the next three years for major fabs. 20 nm products will account for 10 percent of TSMC's revenues in Q3 2014, will expand to 20 percent in Q4, and contribute over 20 percent of TSMC's revenues in 2015. TSMC's 16 nm node will be competitive for products such as mobile baseband chips, ICs, GPUs, NICs, and server chips. Despite these setbacks in the company's competitive outlook, it expects its revenues to grow by 12.6 to 14.2 percent sequentially in Q3 2014, year over year.Source: DigiTimes

NVIDIA Moving Around the Fabled GeForce GTX TITAN II

NVIDIA is moving around engineering samples of what it describes as "GM200 A1 graphics processor," in its shipping manifest. The sample was making its way from Taiwan, to Bangalore, India, from where it's likely pushed to the company's facilities in Bangalore and Hyderabad. A1 steppings of NVIDIA chips are usually pre-production, and bound for just a few more rounds of testing, before being upgraded to "A2" and mass-produced. German tech site 3DCenter.org also pulled out some likely specifications from its sources.

To begin with, the GM200, like the GM204, will be built on existing 28 nm silicon fabrication process, as both NVIDIA and AMD appear to have suffered design setbacks due to their common foundry partner, TSMC, not being able to set its next-gen 20 nm node up to speed in time. The GM200 is expected to feature over 4,000 CUDA cores, although the exact number is unknown. It is expected to widen the memory bus to 512-bit. Given the existing process, the GPU will be huge. Over 600 mm² huge. NVIDIA will probably bank on the energy efficiency of its "Maxwell" architecture to cope with thermal loads put out by a chip that big. The GM200-based "GeForce GTX TITAN II" could launch in the first half of 2015.

Source: 3DCenter.org

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880 and GTX 870 to Launch This Q4

NVIDIA is planning to launch its next high performance single-GPU graphics cards, the GeForce GTX 880 and GTX 870, no later than Q4-2014, in the neighborhood of October and November, according to a SweClockers report. The two will be based on the brand new "GM204" silicon, which most reports suggest, is based on the existing 28 nm silicon fab process. Delays by NVIDIA's principal foundry partner TSMC to implement its next-generation 20 nm process has reportedly forced the company to design a new breed of "Maxwell" based GPUs on the existing 28 nm process. The architecture's good showing with efficiency on the GeForce GTX 750 series probably gave NVIDIA hope. When 20 nm is finally smooth, it wouldn't surprise us if NVIDIA optically shrinks these chips to the new process, like it did to the G92 (from 65 nm to 55 nm). The GM204 chip is rumored to feature 3,200 CUDA cores, 200 TMUs, 32 ROPs, and a 256-bit wide GDDR5 memory interface. It succeeds the company's current workhorse chip, the GK104.

Source: SweClockers

No 20 nm GPUs from AMD This Year

It's not just NVIDIA, which will lack 20 nm GPUs in its portfolio this year. AMD senior vice-president Lisa Su, responding to a question by Wells Fargo, in its Q1 investors call, confirmed that her company will stay on 28 nm throughout 2014, and it's only later that it will move on to 20 nm, and FinFET after that. "I think what I said earlier sort of what we're doing in terms of technology strategy, we are 28 this year, we have 20-nanometer in design, and then FinFET thereafter. So that's the overall product portfolio," she said.

AMD and NVIDIA manufacture their GPUs on a common foundry, TSMC, which has faced delays in implementing its 20 nanometer silicon fab node transition, forcing both companies to come up with new GPUs on existing 28 nm nodes. A huge leap in performance could be a tough ask for those new GPUs. NVIDIA is expected to tape out its performance-segment GM204 and mid-range GM206 chips, both of which are 28 nm, later this month, and the first GeForce GTX products based on the two are expected to roll out by late-Q4 2014 and early-Q1 2015, respectively.


Source: Seeking Alpha

NVIDIA GM204 and GM206 to Tape-Out in April, Products to Launch in Q4?

It looks like things are going horribly wrong at TSMC, NVIDIA and AMD's principal foundry partner, with its 20 nm manufacturing process, which is throwing a wrench into the works at NVIDIA, forcing it to re-engineer an entire lineup of "Maxwell" GPUs based on existing 28 nm process. Either that, or NVIDIA is confident of delivering an efficiency leap using Maxwell on existing/mature 28 nm process, and saving costs in the process. NVIDIA is probably drawing comfort from the excellent energy-efficiency demonstrated by its Maxwell-based GeForce GTX 750 series. According to a 3DCenter.org report, NVIDIA's next mainline GPUs, the GM204 and GM206, which will be built on the 28 nm process, and "Maxwell" architecture, will tape out later this month. Products based on the two, however, can't be expected before Q4 2014, as late as December, or even as late as January 2015.

GM204 succeeds GK104 as the company's next workhorse performance-segment silicon, which could power graphics card SKUs ranging all the way from US $250 to $500. An older report suggests that it could feature as many as 3,200 CUDA cores. The GM204 could be taped out in April 2014, and the first GeForce products based on it could launch no sooner than December 2014. The GM206 is the company's next mid-range silicon, which succeeds GK106. It will tape out in April, alongside the GM204, but products based on it will launch only in January 2015. The GM200 is a different beast altogether. There's no mention of which process the chip will be based on, but it will succeed the GK110, and should offer performance increments worthy of being a successor. For that, it has to be based on the 20 nm process. It will tape-out in June 2014, and products based on it will launch only in or after Q2 2015.Source: 3DCenter.org

Synopsys and TSMC to Deliver 16-nm Custom Design Reference Flow

Synopsys, Inc., a global leader providing software, IP and services used to accelerate innovation in chips and electronic systems, today announced that it has collaborated with TSMC to provide support for voltage-dependent design rules in TSMC's 16-nm Custom Design Reference Flow. As part of TSMC's custom design infrastructure, TSMC has also certified Synopsys' Laker custom design solution and circuit simulation tools that deliver new capabilities for TSMC V0.5 16-nm FinFET process layout design rules, device models, and electromigration and IR-drop (EM/IR) analysis. TSMC and Synopsys will continue to collaborate on certification of the Synopsys tool set until 16 nm FinFET reaches V1.0.

"TSMC works with Synopsys to ensure our customers have access to analog and mixed-signal design tools for TSMC's 16-nanometer FinFET process," said Suk Lee, senior director of design infrastructure marketing at TSMC. "The Custom Design Reference Flow is another milestone of the long term collaboration between the two companies."

TSMC and Synopsys Extend Custom Design Collaboration into 16 nm

Synopsys, Inc., a global leader providing software, IP and services used to accelerate innovation in chips and electronic systems, today announced TSMC's certification of Synopsys' Laker custom design solution for the TSMC 16-nanometer (nm) FinFET process Design Rule Manual (DRM) V0.5 as well as the availability of a 16-nm interoperable process design kit (iPDK) from TSMC.

With its robust support for the iPDK standard, Synopsys' Laker custom design solution provides users with access to a wide range of TSMC process technologies, from 180-nm to 16-nm. Along with support for the TSMC 16-nm V0.5 iPDK, the Laker tool has been enhanced to enable full use of FinFET technology.

New AMD GPU Family Codenames "Volcanic Islands" and "Pirate Islands"

AMD's next generation GPU family that leverages upcoming silicon fab technologies to increase transistor counts, while maintaining or lowering thermal envelopes, is codenamed "Volcanic Islands," and we've known about that for some time now.

The centerpiece of "Volcanic Islands" family is "Hawaii," a high-end GPU that makes up top single- and dual-GPU SKUs; followed by "Maui" and "Tonga." Not much is known about these two. A dual-GPU product with two "Hawaii" chips is confusingly codenamed "New Zealand," which is already used to designate certain Radeon HD 7990 graphics cards. AMD is expected to debut its first "Volcanic Islands" GPUs in Q4-2013, when foundry partner TSMC's swanky new 20 nm node is expected to take flight.

TSMC and Cadence Strengthen Collaboration on 16 nm FinFET Process Development

Cadence Design Systems, Inc., today announced an ongoing multi-year agreement with TSMC to develop the design infrastructure for 16-nanometer FinFET technology, targeting advanced node designs for mobile, networking, servers and FPGA applications. The deep collaboration, beginning earlier in the design process than usual, will effectively address the design challenges specific to FinFETs -- from design analysis through signoff -- and will deliver the infrastructure necessary to enable ultra low-power, high-performance chips.

FinFETs help deliver the power, performance, and area (PPA) advantages that are needed to develop highly differentiated SoC designs at 16 nanometers and smaller process technologies. Unlike a planar FET, the FinFET employs a vertical fin-like structure protruding from the substrate with the gate wrapping around the sides and top of the fin, thereby producing transistors with low leakage currents and fast switching performance. This extended Cadence-TSMC collaboration will produce the design infrastructure that chip designers need for accurate electrical characteristics and parasitic models required for advanced FinFET designs for mobile and enterprise applications.

TSMC and ARM Tape-Out First ARM Cortex-A57 Processor on 16 nm FinFET Technology

TSMC and ARM today announced the first tape-out of an ARM Cortex-A57 processor on FinFET process technology. The Cortex-A57 processor is ARM's highest performing processor, designed to further extend the capabilities of future mobile and enterprise computing, including compute intensive applications such as high-end computer, tablet and server products. This is the first milestone in the collaboration between ARM and TSMC to jointly optimize the 64-bit ARMv8 processor series on TSMC FinFET process technologies. The two companies cooperated in the implementation from RTL to tape-out in six months using ARM Artisan physical IP, TSMC memory macros, and EDA technologies enabled by TSMC's Open Innovation Platform (OIP) design ecosystem.

ARM and TSMC's collaboration produces optimized, power-efficient Cortex-A57 processors and libraries to support early customer implementations on 16 nm FinFET for high-performance, ARM technology-based SoCs.

AMD "Jaguar" Micro-architecture Takes the Fight to Atom with AVX, SSE4, Quad-Core

AMD hedged its low-power CPU bets on the "Bobcat" micro-architecture for the past two years now. Intel's Atom line of low-power chips caught up in power-efficiency, CPU performance, to an extant iGPU performance, and recent models even feature out-of-order execution. AMD unveiled its next-generation "Jaguar" low-power CPU micro-architecture for APUs in the 5W - 25W TDP range, targeting everything from tablets to entry-level notebooks, and nettops.

At its presentation at the 60th ISSC 2013 conference, AMD detailed "Jaguar," revealing a few killer features that could restore the company's competitiveness in the low-power CPU segment. To begin with, APUs with CPU cores based on this micro-architecture will be built on TSMC's 28-nanometer HKMG process. Jaguar allows for up to four x86-64 cores. The four cores, unlike Bulldozer modules, are completely independent, and only share a 2 MB L2 cache.

It's Sony, Not AMD in GeForce Titan's Crosshair

When we first heard of NVIDIA launching its GK110-based consumer graphics card by as early as February, it took us by surprise. Intimidating naming (GeForce Titan 780?) aside, the graphics card is hoping to better NVIDIA's current-generation flagship, the dual-GPU GeForce GTX 690, in a single-GPU package, but does the graphics card market really need NVIDIA to launch its card at the moment? Perhaps not, but the answer lies not with AMD and competition in the graphics card market, but Sony, and competition between PC and console platforms.

Over the weekend, it surfaced that Sony would introduce its next-generation PlayStation console (codenamed "Orbis") later this month, and it would mark the beginning of the next-generation of game consoles. PlayStation 4 features an updated hardware feature-set, and promises to raise the bar with graphics detail that the console industry held with an iron fist for the past half decade. This presents a challenge for not only NVIDIA, but PC gaming in general. Here's how.

Intel Shows Off Industry's First Fully-Patterned 450 mm Wafer

At the SEMI Industry Strategy Symposium (ISS) held late last week, Intel unveiled the pride of its fabs, the industry's first fully-patterned (ready to slice) 450 mm wafer. Major semiconductor fabs around the world are locked in a race for who gets volume-production on 450 mm wafers going first. Among the contenders are Taiwan's TSMC, UAE's GlobalFoundries, and Korea's Samsung, and with the unveiling of the first fully-patterned wafer, Intel appears to have announced its lead. The 450 mm (diameter), thanks to its large surface area, significantly increases yields.

"[This] is an important step forward and it indicates that there will soon be substantial volume of patterned test wafers for use by suppliers in developing their 450 mm tools," stated Chuck Mulloy, a spokesperson for Intel. As for what Intel etched on the wafer, a report claims it could be large dies of simple (highly-patterned) devices such as flash. The fab reportedly used Impints' J-Fil imprint lithography technology that demonstrated 24 nm patterning with line edge roughness of less than 2 nm to 3Σ and critical dimension uniformity to 1.2 nm 3Σ, offering the prospect of 10 nm patterning with single-step process.

Source: X-bit Labs

TSMC Begins Fab 14 Phase 6 Construction

TSMC broke ground for construction of Fab 14 Phase 6, located in Southern Taiwan Science Park (STSP). The new facility will boost the foundry's 12-inch wafer production capacity, leading the way to construction of Phase 7 in 2013. TSMC's facilities in STSP generate 42% of the company's revenues, with a production value of US $6 billion, hiring over 9,000 employees. Phases 1~4 of Fab 14, which specializes in 12-inch wafers, has a quarterly foundry capacity of 540,000 12-inch wafers to produce over 1,200 different types of ICs for about 150 clients a year, according to company executive vice president and co-COO Chiang Shang-yi. In 2013-14, TSMC Fab 14 will become the world's first fab with 20 nanometer SoC volume production, and the company's first plant to start 16 nanometer FinFET volume production.

Source: DigiTimes

TSMC Looking to Build Fabs in the US

Global Foundries could soon howdy-neighbor TSMC in upstate New York, with the Taiwanese semiconductor giant looking to set up a fab there. According to an X-bit Labs report, TSMC began groundwork on its US venture by consulting with Deloitte, to look for viable sites in Rensselaer, Saratoga and Oneida counties, that have abundant water, power, and gas to operate 3.2 million square feet buildings with 1,000 employees, 40 percent of which are college-graduated engineers.

Deloitte also took a look around Luther Forest Technology Campus, where Global Foundries' Fab 8 is located. A little earlier this week, Bill Owens, a Congressman from upstate New York flew to Taiwan, to meet with TSMC CFO Lora Ho to pitch upstate a little more. TSMC is a principal foundry partner of companies such as Qualcomm, NVIDIA, and AMD.

Source: X-bit Labs

Synopsys and TSMC Enable Lithography Compliance Checking for 20 nm

Synopsys, Inc., a global leader providing software, IP and services used to accelerate innovation in chips and electronic systems, today announced the delivery of lithography compliance checking technology for the TSMC 20-nanometer (nm) DFM Data Kit (DDK) encapsulated with Synopsys Proteus mask synthesis technologies. As a result of the design-for-manufacturing collaboration between TSMC and Synopsys, the compliance checking engine in the DDK helps designers identify lithography-related problems early in the design development phase, avoid litho-related manufacturing issues and late-stage schedule slips resulting from re-design.

The TSMC 20-nm DDK complements traditional physical verification rules with a highly accurate simulation-based solution to identify design non-compliance using a direct simulation of the manufacturing process. Lithography correction and verification tools used in the manufacturing mask synthesis flow are embedded in the DDK, resulting in accurate hotspot detection to avoid litho-related manufacturing issues.

NVIDIA to Pull Through 2013 with Kepler Refresh, "March of Maxwell" in 2014

Those familiar with "Maxwell," codename for NVIDIA's next-generation GPU architecture, will find the new company roadmap posted below slightly different. For one, Maxwell is given a new launch timeframe, in 2014. Following this year's successful run at the markets with the Kepler family of GPUs, NVIDIA is looking up to Kepler Refresh GK11x family of GPUs to lead the company's product lineup in 2013. The new GPUs will arrive in the first half of next year, most likely in March, and will be succeeded by the Maxwell family of GPUs in 2014. Apart from the fact that Kepler established good performance and energy-efficiency leads over competitive architectures, a reason behind Maxwell's 2014 launch could be technical. We know from older reports that TSMC, NVIDIA's principal foundry partner, will begin mass production of 20 nanometer chips only by Q4-2013.

Source: WCCFTech

TSMC Reports Third Quarter Results

TSMC today announced consolidated revenue of NT$141.38 billion, net income of NT$49.30 billion, and diluted earnings per share of NT$1.90 (US$0.32 per ADR unit) for the third quarter ended September 30, 2012.

Year-over-year, third quarter revenue increased 32.8% while both net income and diluted EPS increased 62.2%. Compared to second quarter of 2012, third quarter of 2012 results represent a 10.4% increase in revenue, and a 17.9% increase in both net income and diluted EPS. All figures were prepared in accordance with R.O.C. GAAP on a consolidated basis.

TSMC Selects Cadence Virtuoso and Encounter Platforms for 20 nm Design Infrastructure

Cadence Design Systems, Inc., a leader in global electronic design innovation, announced today that TSMC has selected Cadence solutions for its 20-nanometer design infrastructure. The solutions cover the Virtuoso custom/analog and Encounter RTL-to-signoff platforms.

The TSMC 20-nanometer reference flows incorporate new features and methodologies in both Encounter and Virtuoso that take into account newly important wire characteristics, timing closure and design size considerations.

Synopsys and TSMC Collaborate for 20 nm Reference Flow

Synopsys, Inc., a global leader accelerating innovation in the design, verification and manufacture of chips and systems, today announced 20-nanometer (nm) process technology support for the TSMC 20 nm Reference flow. This includes Synopsys Galaxy Implementation Platform support for the latest TSMC 20 nm design rules and models. The collaboration between TSMC and Synopsys on 20nm technology allows designers to gain performance, power efficiency and chip density advantages while achieving predictable design closure with the industry-proven Synopsys RTL to GDSII solution.

TSMC's 20 nm Reference Flow addresses 20 nm design challenges with a transparent double patterning aware design flow enabling double patterning technology (DPT) compliance, pre-coloring capability, new RC extraction methodology, DPT sign-off, and integrated design-for-manufacturing (DFM). The new Reference Flow's transparent DPT enablement reduces DPT design complexity, achieves required accuracy, minimizes 20 nm design flow setup and learning curve, and accelerates 20 nm process adoption.

TSMC Seen As Only 20 nm ASIC Supplier to Apple in the Next 2 Years

Market analysts with Citigroup Global Markets Inc. see TSMC as being the only company able to supply chips built on the 20 nanometer silicon fabrication process to Apple, for its quad-core systems on chip (SoC). J.T. Hsu, a market research fellow with Citigroup points out that Apple began verifying TSMC's 20 nm manufacturing capabilities in August 2012, and could begin risk production (preliminary batches with accepted risk of low-yields) as early as by November 2012. If all goes well, mass production (high-yield) could begin by Q4 2013. TSMC could hike its capital expenditure to the range of US $11-12 billion in 2013-14.

Source: CENS.com
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