TSMC 40nm shortage might last until 2Q 2010

By on December 3, 2009, 6:51 PM
Unnamed industry sources have reportedly informed Fudzilla that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company's (TSMC) 40nm yields may not improve until the second quarter of next year. The sources said that yields are currently around 50%, and should be at 90% or higher for such a mature process.

If true, this suggests that the ongoing shortage of AMD's Radeon HD 5000-series graphics cards will continue. Nvidia's highly anticipated Fermi-based products might also be affected, as they are expected to begin volume shipments next quarter, and should hit store shelves by March 2010.

TSMC admitted to manufacturing troubles in October, blaming "chamber matching issues" for the low yields, and CEO Morris Chang said things would return to normal before the end of the year. I suppose time will tell. In the meantime, if you happen to catch a plentiful stock of Radeon HD 5000 cards, feel free to make note of it in the comments or on the TechSpot forum.




User Comments: 35

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red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

well gee, i bet that the TSMC 40nm shortage ends at the same time Fermi is released.......did someone say collusion?

Guest said:

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63

BlackIrish said:

Wow, even at 50% yields ATI still has a shortage. I know this is far lower than the industry standard, but still, it says that ATI has a lot of people buying their cards.

Regenweald said:

I can only imagine the pressure the TSMC engineers are under, hope they get their processes ironed out for all their customers' sakes.

matchu said:

I wonder if AMD will go ahead and sue someone over this. Lawsuits seem like all the rage nowadays. It does seem extremely suspicious that the semiconductor shortage would be cleared up so soon-after nvidia releases its next-gen card. Who knows..

vangrat said:

Could this also be the reason that the 5000 series cards seem to be a bit more expensive then the 4000 series was at the same time frame of their life cycle?

Supply and Demand is a *insert nasty word here*

kommunist said:

I was thinking of upgrading to a 5870 when they're available, and when prices came down a bit.

I may have a longer wait than I thought. Booourns.

Clrabbit said:

Well Its nice to hear that there should be a fix for the shortage in a couple months.

Works out fine for me any ways, I was waiting for Nvidia new cards before getting a 5xxx card. If the shortage is over around that time we should see some nice price cuts on the 5xxx cards.

Adhmuz Adhmuz, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Why does a process thats over a year old still only have a 50% yield, thats embarrassing if not pathetic. Seriously and now its going to take a couple more months before yields improve still, its too bad that TSMC seem to have a monopoly for the 40nm process if not it would be time to look elsewhere.

manintech said:

Is TSMC the only company than can do 40 nm? why can't they turn to someone else?

Timonius Timonius said:

Quick, somebody tell Apple to put in an order with TSMC!

KG363 KG363 said:

How does this happen? Only one company can do it? They need to get their act together. With these kinds of shortages I would expect legal action.

Clrabbit said:

"legal action."?

You're joking right? unless they have a contract that states they promised to make so much by such and such date. You can't really be serious about suing them... that's like telling a kid selling lemon juice from his tree, that if he can't make 5 gallons a day your going to beat him up and take his money, for not providing you with juice; that you're reselling for twice as much.

Shortages happen, again if you have a contract that states you going to make 5 million units in a year. They better work damn hard to fill it or risk defaulting on the agreement, but if there is no contract and you're just buying what ever they can produce then... well you have two choice be happy they're making it OR find a better way to do it your self.

With out getting into a patent argument here, if we got rid of the patent system then what ever companies could make the Most and Best product would win and we wouldn't see stuff like this as much. Or at least a radical change in how the system works.

Likely TSMC owns a Patent keeping every body else from making the chips, and have refused to lease it out to any body else, who could do it better. There for in the current system "Though luck" wait for them to do a better job.

klepto12 klepto12, TechSpot Paladin, said:

hm it is kinda suspicious that the chips will be ready around the time the 300 series is out ahhm i smell a law suit waiting to happen between ati and nvidia over unfair trade practices who here seriously doesn't think nvidia has something to do with this? TSMC needs to get there act together dont they realize the revenue there losing over all this i mean AMD could have sold a couple million 5000 series cards by now that's just money in your pocket TSMC if you new what fair trade practices were. Now all the sudden we have to wait 4 months to see the yields come up? how hard could it actually be i mean you have had over 1 year to get the process right whats the deal?

Nirkon said:

Consumers are the ones who get hurt here in the end...

but its quite sad to see that technological developments stop

because of manufacturing issues....

Puiu Puiu said:

I'm sure Nvidia is suffering from the same problems as AMD (written AMD and read MAD) is right now.

I'm sure that after the holiday shopping spree is over we'll see more cards on the market and the yields will also be at around 60-75% (90% will be possible in late spring/ early summer).

If i'm going to buy one then next summer is the best time to do it.

Captain828 Captain828 said:

I don't think nVidia has anything to do with TSMC's issues. They wanted to release Fermi in November, but the the A2 silicon was not sufficiently good for mass production.

They don't even know for sure when they'll have the A3 silicon and a sufficient stockpile of Fermi-based GPUs.

IMO, AMD were too confident when they released the 5000 series and thought they could pull a G80 on nVidia, but that didn't quite work that well.

I hope TSMC sorts-out their problems before February, cus' I'm interested in a next-gen replacement for my burnt GTX285.

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

captain828 said:

I don't think nVidia has anything to do with TSMC's issues. They wanted to release Fermi in November, but the the A2 silicon was not sufficiently good for mass production.

They don't even know for sure when they'll have the A3 silicon and a sufficient stockpile of Fermi-based GPUs.

IMO, AMD were too confident when they released the 5000 series and thought they could pull a G80 on nVidia, but that didn't quite work that well.

I hope TSMC sorts-out their problems before February, cus' I'm interested in a next-gen replacement for my burnt GTX285.

Quite the opposite I would think - TSMC's supposed yield for the HD5870/5970 is 50% as against a perfect case scenario of 90% ....So for every GPU that they ship now they would have had 1.8 in a perfect world - I'm pretty sure that wouldn't satisfy demand.

HD5750/5770 are both 40nm process yet it's not hard to find one for sale.

For all you conspiracy theorists.....Wasn't it just last year that AMD and NVIDIA were being looked at for collusion in price-fixing ? Sounds less antagonistic than some of the rampant fanboyism doing the rounds. Before anyone sheds a tear for the red multinational they might want to check how much more expensive these cards are over the original MSRP that they originally listed for...I, myself have decided to sell my child into slavery so that I may afford to run Crossfire- the need to watch the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat and D.I.R.T.2 demo's IS JUST TOO STRONG!!!....Must....Have....DX11....Now

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

That's not good news, but since the lower end chips will be much less affected by low yields, ATI should still be able to get a lot of DX11 cards into the market, even if the high end doesn't sell as much as they'd like to.

Serag said:

@ dividebyzero

Agree with your point..

lol@ "....Must....Have....DX11....Now " hahahhaa

it looks like its a more waiting for those who's waiting for a price fall to upgrade..

compdata compdata, TechSpot Paladin, said:

ATI can't be too happy. But this is disappointing as it will likely mean that prices won't come down as quickly as i would have liked to see.

Puiu Puiu said:

ET3D said:

That's not good news, but since the lower end chips will be much less affected by low yields, ATI should still be able to get a lot of DX11 cards into the market, even if the high end doesn't sell as much as they'd like to.

I'm pretty sure that they are able to sell everything they produce since they cards are really good and nobody expect nvidia to release fermi anytime soon.

slh28 slh28, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Does anyone know if there are other manufacturers other than TSMC? Seems like there's a lack of supplier competition here.

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

@clrabbit - most of the time these companies DO have production quotas in their contracts, usually with minumum/maximum required units specifically enumerated. So, if TSMC is failing to provide the amount of product specified in their contract, a lawsuit is more than justified. They can't just promise a certain amount of production, then go "oops, our bad" and not expect some backlash - they are single-handedly causing serious shortfalls in allowing ATi to even try to cope with their demand, which is potentially causing ATi a massive amount of lost revenue every day this shortfall is present.

You can pretty much guarantee that after this little incident, new processing groups will pop up to compete with TSMC. Or, at least, they will try. The problem is that the initial investment in equipment capable of handling these types of processes is, well, massive. TSMC has been doing this long enough that much of their equipment investments have been recouped, allowing them to be ridiculously competitive and undercut any upstarts that might try to compete for their customer base. Still, one can hope that some rivals are able to step up and provide a second and/or third source for these processes, to avoid causing such shortfalls in the future (and annoy the crap out of us consumers who want stuff NOW).

And yes, nVidia is suffering from the same shortages. It's quite possible that some (not all) of the delays in releasing the new FERMI hardware were artificially created to allow some stock to be built up prior to release, to avoid the "hey, look we've got the best, but good luck finding it anywhere!" syndrome.

Captain828 Captain828 said:

slh28 said:

Does anyone know if there are other manufacturers other than TSMC? Seems like there's a lack of supplier competition here.

Of course there are others with 40nm ready: Intel ! :p

buttus said:

Nvidia is laughing at this as they try to catch up to AMD. Still though, chip shortages are keeping the prices too high.

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

buttus said:

Nvidia is laughing at this as they try to catch up to AMD. Still though, chip shortages are keeping the prices too high.

Any laughter in the nVidia camp right now is probably nervous laughter as the consider the situation. Not only are they getting royally spanked on the benchmark front by ATi, but they also use TSMC as their supplier. So if those guys don't get their stuff together in a timely manner, the FERMI product launch will be as plagued with shortages as ATi's 5xxx stuff is now.

levar said:

@Guest thanks but I'm thinking if I should wait until next year to get a Radeon card, I haven't seen any major sites that have any 5k card currently out of stock. And intel isn't lacking any supplies?!

Guest said:

ATI will be using GlobalFoundaries next year and they are supposed to start fabbing the GPUs at 32nm. nVidia has already stated that they WILL NOT use GF. They are committed to TSMC per The Man. GF uses the same tech that IBM uses for bulk silicon. It has been proven.

Indano

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

captain828 said:

slh28 said:

Does anyone know if there are other manufacturers other than TSMC? Seems like there's a lack of supplier competition here.

Of course there are others with 40nm ready: Intel ! :p

Isn't Intel's process 45nm and 32nm (with 28nm next in line) ?

Last time I checked Intel's Atom CPU was being fabricated by TSMC.

GPU production accounts for 4% of TSMC's semiconductor business- I'm guessing that if Intel, Qualcomm, Broadcom, Altera, AMD, LSI etc have ongoing contracts with TSMC then the business decisions were based on more than a coin-flip.

klepto12 klepto12, TechSpot Paladin, said:

well i just hope that AMD comes out on top for once. Its just a shame that there arent more 5000 series cards for sell. just to let you guys know AMD is not the one who raises the price on there cards its the manufacturers who do that ahmm xfx , sapphire ,HIS and the like catch what im saying. TSMC is probably kicking there selves for not having there process ready for such a hot item

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Puiu said:

ET3D said:

That's not good news, but since the lower end chips will be much less affected by low yields, ATI should still be able to get a lot of DX11 cards into the market, even if the high end doesn't sell as much as they'd like to.

I'm pretty sure that they are able to sell everything they produce since they cards are really good and nobody expect nvidia to release fermi anytime soon.

What I meant was that they're not selling as much as they'd like because they can't get the high end cards on the market. So yes, they're selling everything they produce, but if they yields were higher they'd sell more.

Yields should be higher the less powerful the card, which is why 57x0 are easier to find, and 56x0 should be even more abundant. So they should be able to get quite a few DX11 games into gamers hands even without the high end yields. I hope that these low end cards will provide very good value for money, so that even people who don't need DX11 right now (which is most people) will buy them over similarly priced NVIDIA cards. That'd give game developers more incentive to use DX11.

That said, although few people might expect to see Fermi soon, those waiting for NVIDIA will likely continue to wait for a while.

alexandrionel said:

Intel makes its own processors? )

saintbodhisatva said:

I guess this means prices wont taper for these new cards till about Q4 2010... bummer!

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

Intel makes its own processors? )

[link]

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