AMD shifts all 7nm manufacturing to TSMC, GlobalFoundries halts 7nm development

Posted on Monday, Aug 27 2018 @ 23:26 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck
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Big news in semiconductor land as AMD is dumping GlobalFoundries for its upcoming 7nm lineup. On the company's blog, AMD CTO Mark Papermaster reveals the firm will migrate 7nm production to TSMC. The future Zen CPUs and upcoming 7nm GPUs will be made by TSMC, while the cooperation with GlobalFoundries will continue for 12/14nm products. Previously, AMD indicated it would use both TSMC and GlobalFoundries on the first 7nm product. That statement was made barely a month ago, so it appears this is a very recent decision from GlobalFoundries.
AMD’s next major milestone is the introduction of our upcoming 7nm product portfolio, including the initial products with our second generation “Zen 2” CPU core and our new “Navi” GPU architecture. We have already taped out multiple 7nm products at TSMC, including our first 7nm GPU planned to launch later this year and our first 7nm server CPU that we plan to launch in 2019. Our work with TSMC on their 7nm node has gone very well and we have seen excellent results from early silicon. To streamline our development and align our investments closely with each of our foundry partner’s investments, today we are announcing we intend to focus the breadth of our 7nm product portfolio on TSMC’s industry-leading 7nm process. We also continue to have a broad partnership with GLOBALFOUNDRIES spanning multiple process nodes and technologies. We will leverage the additional investments GLOBALFOUNDRIES is making in their robust 14nm and 12nm technologies at their New York fab to support the ongoing ramp of our AMD Ryzen, AMD Radeon and AMD EPYC processors. We do not expect any changes to our product roadmaps as a result of these changes.
GlobalFoundries is no longer seeing a need to further develop its 7nm process and is shelving this node indefinitely. Instead, the firm will reorient itself on 14/12nm FinFET derivatives and other differentiated offerings. As usual, no word about what went wrong but we can only assume that the yields were atrocious. Here's the full PR from GlobalFoundries:
GLOBALFOUNDRIES today announced an important step in its transformation, continuing the trajectory launched with the appointment of Tom Caulfield as CEO earlier this year. In line with the strategic direction Caulfield has articulated, GF is reshaping its technology portfolio to intensify its focus on delivering truly differentiated offerings for clients in high-growth markets.

GF is realigning its leading-edge FinFET roadmap to serve the next wave of clients that will adopt the technology in the coming years. The company will shift development resources to make its 14/12nm FinFET platform more relevant to these clients, delivering a range of innovative IP and features including RF, embedded memory, low power and more. To support this transition, GF is putting its 7nm FinFET program on hold indefinitely and restructuring its research and development teams to support its enhanced portfolio initiatives. This will require a workforce reduction, however a significant number of top technologists will be redeployed on 14/12nm FinFET derivatives and other differentiated offerings.

“Demand for semiconductors has never been higher, and clients are asking us to play an ever-increasing role in enabling tomorrow’s technology innovations,” Caulfield said. “The vast majority of today’s fabless customers are looking to get more value out of each technology generation to leverage the substantial investments required to design into each technology node. Essentially, these nodes are transitioning to design platforms serving multiple waves of applications, giving each node greater longevity. This industry dynamic has resulted in fewer fabless clients designing into the outer limits of Moore’s Law. We are shifting our resources and focus by doubling down on our investments in differentiated technologies across our entire portfolio that are most relevant to our clients in growing market segments.”

In addition, to better leverage GF’s strong heritage and significant investments in ASIC design and IP, the company is establishing its ASIC business as a wholly-owned subsidiary, independent from the foundry business. A relevant ASIC business requires continued access to leading-edge technology. This independent ASIC entity will provide clients with access to alternative foundry options at 7nm and beyond, while allowing the ASIC business to engage with a broader set of clients, especially the growing number of systems companies that need ASIC capabilities and more manufacturing scale than GF can provide alone.

GF is intensifying investment in areas where it has clear differentiation and adds true value for clients, with an emphasis on delivering feature-rich offerings across its portfolio. This includes continued focus on its FDXTM platform, leading RF offerings (including RF SOI and high-performance SiGe), analog/mixed signal, and other technologies designed for a growing number of applications that require low power, real-time connectivity, and on-board intelligence. GF is uniquely positioned to serve this burgeoning market for “connected intelligence,” with strong demand in new areas such as autonomous driving, IoT and the global transition to 5G.

“Lifting the burden of investing at the leading edge will allow GF to make more targeted investments in technologies that really matter to the majority of chip designers in fast-growing markets such as RF, IoT, 5G, industrial and automotive,” said Samuel Wang, research vice president at Gartner. “While the leading edge gets most of the headlines, fewer customers can afford the transition to 7nm and finer geometries. 14nm and above technologies will continue to be the important demand driver for the foundry business for many years to come. There is significant room for innovation on these nodes to fuel the next wave of technology.”
The defeat of GlobalFoundries is a massive win for TSMC, leaving it as the biggest foundry for the most advanced process nodes. The only other players offering a 7nm process are Intel and Samsung, but both aren't shipping yet.


About the Author

Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.



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