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UMC joins IBM chip alliance for 10 nm process development

IBM (NYSE: IBM) and United Microelectronics Corporation (NYSE: UMC; TWSE: 2303) ("UMC"), a leading global semiconductor foundry, today announced that UMC will join the IBM Technology Development Alliances as a participant in the group's development of 10nm CMOS process technology.

"Established over a decade ago, the IBM alliance allows the partners to leverage our combined expertise and collaborative research and innovative technology development to address the demanding needs for advanced semiconductor applications," said Gary Patton, VP, IBM Semiconductor Research & Development. "UMC is a strong addition to the alliance."

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

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

SandForce Closes $25 Million Series D Funding

SandForce Inc., the pioneer of SSD (Solid State Drive) Processors that enable standard NAND Flash deployment in enterprise, client and industrial computing applications, today announced that it has closed $25 million in Series D funding, led by Canaan Partners. Existing investors who also participated include DCM, Storm Ventures, Translink Capital, LSI Corporation & UMC Capital.

“We are increasing volume shipments of our Enterprise and Client SSD Processors to leading drive manufacturers around the globe and continue to receive exceptional market acceptance of our DuraClass technology in I/O intensive storage applications,” said Michael Raam, president and CEO of SandForce. “This new funding will help us bring our next-generation products to market, expand our customer and partner support infrastructure, and accelerate our core technology development that will extend our market leadership.”

AMD to Switch to GlobalFoundries with 28 nm GPUs

With AMD's next generation of graphics processors, the company plans to, at one point, switch its GPU manufacturing from its present Taiwan-based foundry partners such as TSMC and UMC, to GlobalFoundaries, its erstwhile own manufacturing division. From 40 nm, graphics processors are expected to jump to 28 nm as the next manufacturing process standard. GlobalFoundries will be ready with a 28 nm High-K metal gate (HKMG) node for making AMD products which are now bulk-manufactured in Taiwan.

During a quarterly conference call with financial analysts, chief executive officer of AMD, Dirk Meyer said "The first intersection of our AMD GPUs and GlobalFoundries are on the 28nm. We haven’t been public with respect to any timing there." GlobalFoundries is said to have two principal kinds of 28 nm nodes, the 28nm-HP (High Performance) node makes complex chips such as GPUs, game console chips, storage controllers, networking and media encoding, while the 28nm-SLP (Super Low Power) is used for less complex devices, particularly intended to be low-power, for portable devices, such as baseband, application processors, and other handheld functions. In 2011, AMD is expected to release its next-generation of GPUs in a series codenamed "Northern Islands".Source: X-bit Labs

GLOBALFOUNDRIES Appoints VP of Marketing

GLOBALFOUNDRIES today announced the appointment of Jim Ballingall as vice president of marketing. In this role, Ballingall will be responsible for developing and implementing marketing solutions and strategies to support the growth of GLOBALFOUNDRIES as it aims to reshape the landscape of the foundry industry.

“The core of the GLOBALFOUNDRIES brand comprises the sum of the unique value propositions that we create, promise, and deliver to our customers,” said Jim Kupec, senior vice president of sales and marketing at GLOBALFOUNDRIES. “As we strive to deliver on our vision and become the world’s first truly global foundry, Jim’s proven foundry industry leadership and experience will help us develop and convey our unique value propositions to customers and stakeholders and position the company for optimal success, as we unlock our customers’ potential to innovate and win.”

NVIDIA GT300 Already Taped Out

NVIDIA's upcoming next-generation graphics processor, codenamed GT300 is on course for launch later this year. Its development seems to have crossed an important milestone, with news emerging that the company has already taped out some of the first engineering samples of the GPU, under the A1 batch. The development of the GPU is significant since it is the first high-end GPU to be designed on the 40 nm silicon process. Both NVIDIA and AMD however, are facing issues with the 40 nm manufacturing node of TSMC, the principal foundry-partner for the two. Due to this reason, the chip might be built by another foundry partner (yet to be known) the two are reaching out to. UMC could be a possibility, as it has recently announced its 40 nm node that is ready for "real, high-performance" designs.

The GT300 comes in three basic forms, which perhaps are differentiated by batch quality processing: G300 (that make it to consumer graphics, GeForce series), GT300 (that make it to high-performance computing products, Tesla series), and G200GL (that make it to professional/enterprise graphics, Quadro series). From what we know so far, the core features 512 shader processors, a revamped data processing model in the form of MIMD, and will feature a 512-bit wide GDDR5 memory interface to churn out around 256 GB/s of memory bandwidth. The GPU is compliant with DirectX 11, which makes its entry with Microsoft Windows 7 later this year, and can be found in release candidate versions of the OS already.Source: Bright Side of News

NVIDIA Outsources 40 nm to Foundry Partners in Q2

With rival AMD having a production-grade 40 nm graphics processor, and UMC's recent announcement of being ready with a high-performance 40 nm manufacturing node, the conditions are increasingly favourable for NVIDIA to flag-off large-scale production of 40 nm GPUs. According to Chinese print-media Commercial Times, the company set its foundry outsourcing schedule for within Q2 2009, with TSMC and UMC being the regular foundry-partners.

Within this quarter, NVIDIA will start mass-production of the entry-level GT218, high-end mobile GT215 and mainstream desktop GT214 and GT216 GPUs. Additionally, the company may also expand its output for the 55 nm G200b high-end GPU.Source: DigiTimes

UMC Becomes the First Company Ready for Real, High-Performance 40 nm Manufacturing

UMC, a leading global semiconductor foundry, today announced that it has delivered customer ICs produced on its High Performance (HP) 40 nm process technology. The products were manufactured with excellent cycle time and yields for the large die-size programmable logic chips, which leveraged the foundry's triple-gate oxide, 12 metal layers and copper/low-k technology to enable 65% reduced power consumption and more than twice the density improvement over previous 65nm generation products. The advanced 40 nm ICs have already begun shipping in volume to the customer's end users for product sampling.

S.C. Chien, vice president of advanced technology development at UMC, said, "UMC continues to remain at the forefront of semiconductor foundry technology through the timely delivery of leading-edge processes that meet the demanding requirements of today's advanced applications. The delivery of these 40 nm customer products underscores this technology commitment, we look forward to bringing the performance advantages of our proven 40 nm technology to even more UMC customers."

AMD 32 nm CPU Conquest to Begin in 2010

After spinning off its manufacturing division to The Foundry Co., AMD is left with all the engineering resources it needs to make processors. Contradicting older roadmap slides by the company predicting it would start selling 32 nm processors in 2011, Dirk Meyer, CEO of AMD in an interview with Information Week said that the company is on-track to ship smaller, more powerful processors built on the 32 nm manufacturing process by 2010.

The new manufacturing process would allow the chip maker to step up transistor counts to add more features and computational power. Tomorrow, on March 2, the AMD is expected to close the deal with Advanced Technology Investment Company (ATIC) of Abu Dhabi to form The Foundry Company (TFC). This would render AMD fabless. The company will then, like other fabless market heavyweights such as NVIDIA and VIA, will focus on designing processors, while TFC, its largest foundry partner will manufacture the processors. Currently AMD is tied up with foundry companies such as TSMC and UMC for manufacturing products of its Graphics Products Group, products such as GPUs and chipset.

AMD will be an year behind larger market rival Intel in selling processors built on the 32 nm technology. Intel plans to roll out 32 nm processors by Q4 2009. AMD's designs will be ready by mid-2010, following which volume production of its 32 nm chips will commence by Q4 2010.Source: Information Week

The Foundry Company to Make GPUs, To Accept Designs from Other Manufacturers Soon

At the AMD Analyst Day event, AMD indicated in its presentations that The Foundry Company, a manufacturing company formed from the assets of AMD with the intestments of ATIC under the AssetSmart program, would in the future become an independent foundry company accepting foundry partnerships from companies apart from its one largest customer, AMD. The move would keep the newly formed company profitable and competitive with other Asian foundry companies.

In the same presentation, AMD also indicated that eventually it would assign manufacturing of its ATI Radeon GPUs and chipsets, to The Foundry Company (TFC). Currently GPUs and chipsets are being manufacuted by foundry companies such as TSMC and UMC in Taiwan. This move would send a significant chunk of manufacturing to TFC. Sources tell ATI Forum.de that at FAB38 Dresden, a major manufacturing facility, installations of the 40nm bulk manufacturing node is in full-swing (not to be confused with 45nm SOI, on which K10.5 processors are built). Also there are indications of the facility accepting orders for manufacturing chips on the new node from other fab-less companies, an attempt to bring in profitability right from the start.

Source: ATI Forum

NVIDIA Increases Foundry Outsourcing to TSMC and UMC

According to the Taiwanese Economic News site, NVIDIA is planning to increase production in Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC) and United Microelectronics (UMC), in order to keep up with the strong demand for its graphics chips. Throughout the last quarter NVIDIA had contracted TSMC to make a record 50,000 wafers of 65nm chips and UMC to make 7,000-9,000 wafers of the same chips. Now industry watchers forecast TSMC will produce up to 60,000 wafers for NVIDIA, while the volume production of UMC will rise to 10,000-12,000 wafers over the next quarter. With the strong demand for NVIDIA cards growing, the company's executives estimate to beat the record revenue of $935.3 million achieved for the same period of last year.Source: CENS.com
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