TSMC 40nm yield issues to affect AMD and Nvidia

By on October 30, 2009, 10:48 AM
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the world's largest dedicated independent semiconductor foundry, recently confirmed it has run into new issues with their 40nm process technology that have sent yield rates down to 40%. Major customers for TSMC's 40nm processes include AMD, which just released its Radeon HD 5000 series, and Nvidia, who is expected to launch the GT300 series in December.

On first thought the conspiracy theorist in me found this suspiciously untimely for AMD, which for the first time in a long while had a great opportunity to capitalize on its early-to-market status. Their latest 40nm-based cards are not only the first to support DirectX 11, with Nvidia's answer arriving a few months later, but they have also been getting high marks for their performance and feature set in reviews around the web.

Then again TSMC's recent issues will reportedly impact shipping schedules for both AMD and Nvidia -- not to mention the manufacturer's financial performance. Company chairman and CEO Morris Chang pledged to get the problem fixed during the current quarter. The company had previously improved yield rates for its 40nm processes to around 60% from as low as 20-30% in the second quarter of 2009.




User Comments: 30

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fref said:

Tell me about it! I ordered two of these video cards for customers almost 2 weeks ago and I'm still waiting. I hope they can still provide some while they fix their yield problem, I can't make my customers wait until december.

Puiu Puiu said:

this means that we might not see any price cuts anytime soon. they might even get more expensive during the winter holidays when many will buy new computers.

freedomthinker said:

Mm... this are larming news , lower prices are not guaranteed , all of this is on hold , well at least TSMC noticed this , thats good at least

Guest said:

I wonder, why doesn't AMD use it's GlobalFoundries for manufacturing?

1. They have a better yield and at a lower nm process.

2. It's probably cheaper since it's kind of theirs?

Obakemono said:

Are the GPU's design based off a 40nm die size and cannot be set up for the 32nm process? This is really a big blow to all involved, supply and demand will drive the prices up until the backlog gets fixed. Just like memory prices going up.

fref said:

this means that we might not see any price cuts anytime soon.

Actually, I've read that prices are being increased by 20$ because of this... So no, no price cuts...

Rage_3K_Moiz Rage_3K_Moiz, Sith Lord, said:

I wonder, why doesn't AMD use it's GlobalFoundries for manufacturing?

1. They have a better yield and at a lower nm process.

2. It's probably cheaper since it's kind of theirs?

Reply With Quote

It's cheaper to outsource the manufacturing, since labour costs at their current fab in Germany are likely astronomical compared to TSMC. That and the fact that TSMC is prepped for high-volume manufacturing is probably why GlobalFoundries isn't in the mix yet.

Cueto_99 said:

I think in the near future it is better to stick to the 4800 series, they're cheaper, they're performance is top notch, they're reliable, Directx 11 isn't going to be a big issue maybe until Q2 2010, and hey? who has 3 monitors now for eyefinity??

I just ordered 2 4830's and I already have 1, so I'll try Tri-fire... that should be enough performance at least for the next two ATi generations...

pioneerx01 pioneerx01 said:

I hope they really fix the yields and thoroughly test all the cards before they ship them out. I do not want to get a card and than have to return it doe to lack of "testing".

PUTALE said:

mmh, looks like both amd and nvidia may get affected by this.

Rage_3K_Moiz Rage_3K_Moiz, Sith Lord, said:

I hope they really fix the yields and thoroughly test all the cards before they ship them out. I do not want to get a card and than have to return it doe to lack of "testing".

Bad cards are never due to chip manufacturing defects, but rather due to improper manufacturing of the card itself. Defects in the PCB (bad soldering, broken tracks etc.) or cooling system (among others) usually manifest as a failed card.

TSMC, UMC and other fabs extensively test all their silicon before sending them out to manufacturers; after all, their reputation is at stake. A single improperly-fabricated wafer can have dire implications.

It is another matter if there is a flaw in the chip design itself...

Deso said:

so thats why... I was wondering when I tried to buy the 5770 why it out out of stock everywhere :/ and I think you're right it's to convenient when amd finally was a awesome card's out at good competetive prices that suddenly 40 mm nand yeilds sink to the bottom

MBK MBK said:

Awww and I was hoping there would be a nice price drop in the DX11 cards soon...guess I'll have to wait a while longer.

Wagan8r Wagan8r said:

So, if Nvidia is getting about 3% yeilds on their GT300 and TSMC is getting 40%, then does it mean Nvidia will be seeing 1.2% yeilds? I sure hope not, because I'm waiting to upgrade my GPU to a Fermi card!

abautu said:

@wagan8r: Where did you see the 3% yield rates? That seems quite low, even for a new technology.

tonylukac said:

@abautu: I saw mention of the 3% yield rates. I think it was mentioned somewhere in Techspot.

Guest said:

Can't use GlobalFoundries because:

Bulk silicon production isn't ramped yet (AMD is SOI)

40nm process isn't ready yet

Exculsivity contracts with TSMC, even if GF could make them

Don't expect GF to produce ATI products until 28nm

mailpup mailpup said:

Besides, wouldn't GlobalFoundries be busy for awhile cranking out new CPU chips for their revamped models as described here?: http://www.techspot.com/vb/topic137182.html

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

That's a pity. I'm also looking to buy a new Radeon, and was hoping that prices will drop a little over the next month or two.

It seems to me though like NVIDIA will suffer more from this, since its chip is larger, which means it will have more errors and lower yields.

Wagan8r Wagan8r said:

abautu said:

@wagan8r: Where did you see the 3% yield rates? That seems quite low, even for a new technology.

I got it here: [link]

If you follow the link on the page, you'll actually find that it was 1.7%, so I had my number slightly off. But sadly, the reality is worse, which means my calculation should have come out to 0.68%.

Shalimar said:

Ah well this definitely eliminates the ideas of price cuts for the immediate future. However based on the information available this should be cleared up soon enough there should still be product available for the holiday season. Of course the faster the better for AMD but I'd bet Nvidia is hoping it gets worse since they have nothing new to release at this time.

ken777 said:

No conspiracy here, but definitely a break for Nvidia. AMD might not be able capture as might high end market share as they wanted, but it doesn't seem like Nvidia is really going to be all that happy either. I've read elsewhere that there might also be a shortage of the 55nm parts because they didn't order enough wafers. Could be a lump-of-coal-in-the-stocking type Christmas for AMD, Nvidia, and gamers.

JieMan JieMan said:

Bad news indeed , it pushes everything back further , the silicone is being used for alot of current tech , from AMD and NVIDIA both desktop and mobile products supplies will be effected substantially. Directly contributing to a higher overall selling cost of said products.

anonemus said:

Other than technical problems, I don't see ATI needing to cut its prices immediately as nvidia doesn't seem to be prepared as well to mass-produce 40nm graphic chips

tavesa said:

These Semi conductor companies are a bit hasty. They won't test their circuits in a thorough manner and they will release the product. They are not to be blamed, because of the competition in the market, they have no other choice but to release a first version and then their developments later. That's why, It's better to purchase items from new technology, later than when they are released. The products too will be there after some time has passed.

KG363 KG363 said:

This is bad news for everyone. Fewer cards, less revenue, fewer happy customers

kalambong said:

The fab as Global Foundaries is set up for producing CPUs, using technologies like high-K materials and stressed silicon.

The fab TSMC has doesn't do any of that. No high-K material and no stressed silicon.

But what TSMC has is this --- high volume production, dimension shrinking (40nm now and 30nm or 28nm in the near future, at the end of 2010), and TSMC package includes masks (which may cost tens of millions) as well.

SUSHRUKH said:

so thats why... I was wondering when I tried to buy the 5770 why it out out of stock everywhere :/ and I think you're right it's to convenient when amd finally was a awesome card's out at good competetive prices that suddenly 40 mm nand yeilds sink to the bottom

Guest said:

Looks like I'm keeping my GTX260 a while longer. At least Nvidia has now more time to improve their drivers, since they will be releasing nothing new in the near future.

Rage_3K_Moiz Rage_3K_Moiz, Sith Lord, said:

The fab as Global Foundaries is set up for producing CPUs, using technologies like high-K materials and stressed silicon.

The fab TSMC has doesn't do any of that. No high-K material and no stressed silicon.

That's partly inaccurate. Strained silicon (which is what I believe you are referring to) has been produced by TSMC for at least three years now.

TSMC is behind however on high-k gate technology; they recently pushed back high-k to their 28nm node, which will be out some time in late 2010 or early 2011.

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