AMD has reportedly hired Samsung, GlobalFoundries to co-produce its next chips

By Shawn Knight
Dec 22, 2015
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  1. AMD got out of the chip-making business back in 2009 and although it doesn't plan on rejoining the fray, the company could certainly shake up the industry if the latest rumors surrounding the company prove accurate.

    Sources familiar with the matter tell Korea's Electronic Times that AMD has recruited Samsung to help produce its silicon starting next year. AMD isn't completely ditching all of its existing manufacturing partners, however, as GlobalFoundries will stick around to help split the load. As such, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) doesn't appear to be in AMD's future.

    Samsung and GlobalFoundries will reportedly begin mass production of AMD's next GPU, codenamed Greenland, in the second quarter of 2016 using a 14-nanometer FinFET LPP (Low Power Plus) manufacturing process. Production of AMD's Zen CPU will begin shortly after, we're told, and if some rumors are to be believed, 10-namometer chips could arrive as early as 2017.

    The reason for the change (from TSMC to Samsung) reportedly has to do with the former having trouble with yields. If that is the case and if AMD has a specific launch date in mind, it likely decided the risk was too great.

    As always, it's worth reiterating that this is little more than water cooler rumor at the moment and should be taken as such.

    Permalink to story.

  2. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 1,100   +526

    Hopefully this is true. Samsung is one of the better Fabs, an area AMD has had a particular weakness in. I remember on multiple occasions that AMD failed to capture market share simply because they didn't have enough supply and the prices increased as such. Heck, the Fury and Fury X are going through the same thing.

    AMD is going to need to have a Fab partner that can crank out HBM 2.0 cards for them.
  3. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 6,335   +1,937

    TSMC always seems to have problems with their yields. I don't know why AMD don't also pigeon hole Intel as well for production, after all money is money no matter who it comes from. It makes business sense to me.
  4. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,258

    Can't see that working out - AMD giving its direct competitor access to its chip floorplans, designs, and logic, and Intel giving its direct competitor access to one of the greatest advantages Intel enjoys over its rivals. Intel's 14nm FF process in addition to being more mature, also offers better transistor density, better power scaling, and is better suited to high power IC's than Samsung's 14nm LPP.
    A better process and process yield probably aren't the prime movers in the decision. AMD is bound by a pretty brutal wafer supply agreement with GloFo. Don't order enough wafer starts and AMD are penalized under the WSA, while taking the full allocation has meant that AMD has been stuck with unsold inventory (leading to inventory write-downs). I'm guessing that the announcement is tied to the WSA restructuring deal that featured in AMD's Q3 earnings call.
    I don't think TSMC's yield is the problem. GM 200 is slightly larger than Fiji and there aren't any shortage of Titan X/M6000/M40/980 Ti's that sell in far greater numbers.
    The issue with the Fury's is the assembly of the interposer/HBM package and the assembly of the HBM. TSV's and the fine pitched micro-bumping require exacting assembly and specialized x-ray metrology test and validation tools.
    Once the processes are more mature and there is more competition in the die stack packaging industry you should see the supply bottleneck abate. At present Amkor is primary assembler, but both ASE (packaging/bumping) and TSMC (interposer) are due to enter the market.
    poohbear likes this.
  5. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 6,335   +1,937

    Samsung produces ARM chips for Apple...
  6. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,258

    Yes they do.
    Samsung also have their own Exynos...which uses ARM logic IP for both RISC processor and graphics.

    Not sure what point you're trying to make in replying to my quote.

    The present state of the industry is that Intel's 14nmFF leads the way in virtually every metric. TSMC's 16nmFF is some way behind ( 16nmFF+ should close the gap somewhat, while 16nmFFC should be a stepping stone to 10nm). Samsung -and GloFo's 14nm LPE is a poor third - LPP while better, will probably still lag behind.

    A current comparison can be made from the Apple A9 chip you referenced. The iPhone 6 is available with A9's from both Samsung (14nmLPE) and TSMC (16nmFF). The Samsung chip is smaller but is slightly slower, runs hotter, and is around 20% more power hungry [Source #1] [Source #2]
  7. poohbear

    poohbear TS Booster Posts: 98   +56

    Very detailed analysis. I noticed AMD's stock jumped 10% today. Is it due to this rumor?
  8. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,258

    Could be, but in general stock traders aren't industry experts. Most (if not all) the major hardware vendors have seen gains of late which might just reflect the general optimism regarding computing hardware growth - both traditional markets as well as steeper ramping markets like mobile, automotive, IoT etc.
    poohbear likes this.
  9. EClyde

    EClyde TS Maniac Posts: 616   +143

    I hope AMD does big things...We NEED them....INTEL does not......don't forget the old days kids

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