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TSMC and Globalfoundries Vie to Supply 14nm/16nm Process Technologies

May 25, 2015 | By Ken Liu

Globally leading chip vendors are choosing between Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), generally recognized as the world's leading pure silicon foundry of Taiwan, and Globalfoundries Inc. (Its own website: GLOBALFOUNDRIES is based in Silicon Valley with manufacturing operations in Dresden, Germany; Malta, New York, and Singapore.) for supplies of 14-nanometer and 16-nanometer processing technologies, heating up the race among major silicon foundries to vie to develop such leading-edge processing technologies with acceptable defect-free rates.

Graphic-chip heavyweight NvidiaCorp. has chosen to work with TSMC on the development of 16nm and 10nm processes for its chips. AMD, nVidia's archrival, has contracted Globalfoundries to make its ZEN and K1 14nm graphic processors, which is set to hit the market next year, as well as Globalfoundries and TSMC to make its Arctic Islands graphics processors.

NvidiaCo-founder and Chairman J.H. Huang points out that his company has chosen TSMC as its primary foundry partner after having evaluated every foundry supplier and taking into consideration TSMC's stable migration to 20nm process, and looking to the foundry's enhanced output of 16nm chips in the near future.

Huang says his company will continue to consolidate cooperation with TSMC on advanced processes, including the 10nm process.

According to capital equipment suppliers, Nvidia will contract TSMC to make Pascal graphic chips using TSMC's 16nm processing technology and chip-on-wafer-on-substrate (CoWoS) packaging technology, with the chips to begin selling next year.

Also, Nvidia will adopt TSMC's 16nm process to make its next-generation graphic processor designed on the ARM architecture, dubbed Parker, as well as join TSMC's project to develop high bandwidth memory (HBM) stack technology.

While in the last two years AMD has outsourced production of its mid-to-low range chips to TSMC, the chip vendor will source from Samsung-Globalfoundries' 14nm process after 2016 for its Zen processor, which is built around the X86 architecture, and its K12 processor that is designed around the ARM architecture.

Next year, AMD will reportedly contract TSMC to build the high-end models of its Arctic Islands family of chips using 16nm process, and Globalfoundries to make the low-end types using 14nm process.

According industry executives, although TSMC's 16nm FinFET process has failed to win market share to equal that of the Samsung-Globalfoundries camp's 14nm FinFET process in the first half of this year, TSMC is ramping up such capacity with all-out effort in hopes of winning more foundry contracts for smartphone chips, including Apple A9, and graphic chips in the second half. 

14nm/16nm Process Suppliers for Nvidia and AMD


Nvidia
             AMD
Product category
Graphic chip
ARM-based processor
X86-based processor
ARM-based processor
Graphic chip
Product name
Pascal
Parker
Zen
K12
Arctic Islands
Foundry supplier
TSMC
TSMC
Samsung/
Globalfoundries
Samsung/
Globalfoundries
TSMC, Globalfoundries
Foundry process
16nm
16nm
14nm
14nm
14nm/16nm
Sources: The manufacturers


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