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Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing's new 40nm process gives the American fabs a run for their money

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC) announced earlier this week that it will start offering a new 40nm microchip to its customers. The company originally planned to adopt the 45nm process node -- well established by AMD, IBM and Intel -- though the company simultaneously confirmed it will abandon its efforts for 45nm general purpose process node technology.

Just a step smaller the current 45nm CPU processes at 45nm, the company is focusing on a low-power node for wireless and portable appliances with the 40LP line.  The 40G line will be use in game consoles, graphics processors and other high-performance devices.

"Our design flow can take designs at 45nm and target it toward the advantages of 40nm. A lot of TSMC development work has gone into ensuring that this transition is truly transparent. Designers need only concentrate on achieving their performance objectives," said senior director of advanced technology marketing at TSMC, Jon Wai, in a statement earlier this week.

The new chips boast the smallest SRAM size in the industry at 0.242 micrometers. They have a smaller footprint than current 45nm chips and 2.35 times higher gate density than TSMC's previous 65nm process. Extreme low-k material is combined with a 193nm immersion lithography process to create the new wafers.

Some of TSMC's more notable clients include AMD, Broadcom, Conexant, NVIDIA and VIA as well as most recently Sun Microsystems who chose TSMC as the new manufacturer for their famous UltraSparc processors.


TSMC has not confirmed which clients opted for the new process designs, though ATI traditionally trailblazed new process nodes for the company. After AMD purchased ATI, the AMD RV670 chipset became one of the first to adopt the 55nm process nodes at TSMC, so it may be entirely realistic to expect AMD to embrace the 40G node later this year or early next year.


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Small typo
By DOSGuy on 3/27/2008 5:37:22 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Taiwan Semicondcuter Manufacturing (TSMC)


Swap the c and the u, and replace the e with an o.




RE: Small typo
By marsbound2024 on 3/27/2008 6:14:42 PM , Rating: 2
Ok so you might be a grammar nazi, but I do think you have a bit of a point in a way. The author of a very popular electronics/tech news site should know how to spell "semiconductor." However, everyone makes mistakes.


RE: Small typo
By marsbound2024 on 3/27/2008 6:15:59 PM , Rating: 2
Just as I made a bit of a mistake: "A writer of a very popular..." Heh.


RE: Small typo
By winterspan on 3/27/2008 7:40:19 PM , Rating: 2
I agree. It seems like it's amateur hour at every technology blog lately. Use a ****** spell-check for god sakes. Whats wrong with these writers? What apps are they using to post articles/blog entries without a spell check? even simple HTML/Javascript "word processing" apps have access to spell-check.


RE: Small typo
By ImSpartacus on 3/27/2008 8:29:09 PM , Rating: 2
I agree. It takes a whole 10 minutes at the most to comb an article that size for spelling errors if you don't have spell check, but good god, spell check is almost standard now. This is unacceptable. I may start looking at gizmodo or another news service.


RE: Small typo
By idconstruct on 3/30/2008 6:52:21 PM , Rating: 2
.. because the presence of "semicondcutor" in the article rendered all the other information false eh?

Still, even as i write this, firefox is underlining it as wrong... a feature I enjoy when posting or writing emails.


RE: Small typo
By DOSGuy on 3/28/2008 12:21:25 AM , Rating: 1
I pointed out a spelling mistake, and one that was in the headline. I also made an effort to draw attention to it in a somewhat amusing way. I'm not anal enough to bother pointing out grammar mistakes. I see no reason to call me a "grammar nazi" or rate me down. I was legitimately trying to be helpful.


RE: Small typo
By MrPoletski on 3/31/2008 1:06:56 AM , Rating: 2
"The new chips boast the smallest SRAM size in the industry at 0.242 micrometers."

MICRON!! dag nammit.


RE: Small typo
By MrPoletski on 3/31/2008 1:09:03 AM , Rating: 2
"The new chips boast the smallest SRAM size in the industry at 0.242 micrometers."

MICRON!! dag nammit.


Asset Lite?
By teldar on 3/27/2008 6:02:03 PM , Rating: 2
This news really makes me wonder about why on earth AMD would bother with another Fab. I would think they would be better off to use the fabs they hae for research, testing, and small volume start-ups and rely on TSMC for mass production of their chips. I'm sure it costs a little more to have things fabbed on the newest processes, but this would possibly allow AMD to get their act together and start making a little money again before trying to build another new fab. Particularly as it seems TSMC has better manufacturing prowess than AMD has....

T




RE: Asset Lite?
By James Holden on 3/27/2008 6:30:00 PM , Rating: 2
From what I understand, CPU designs are too complicated to go Fab light. The 40nm process at TSMC is probably completely different than the 45nm process at IBM or Intel.

But then seeing the SPARC announcement piqued my interested too. Maybe TSMC has stepped up to the point that they can do general purpose process well enough to do a CPU. They have billions of dollars in fab tech, so yeah maybe.

If AMD can do their designs at TSMC, well there's honestly no reason they shouldn't at this point (except for the fact the German government would sue the sh*t out of them for closing Dresden).

It's funny how AMD couldnt' sell their NAND stuff fast enough, and now everyone makes money on NAND. Yet they kept their fabs which are losing the company billions ...

Focus on R+D AMD, we need you to stick around!


RE: Asset Lite?
By smanders on 3/27/2008 6:49:38 PM , Rating: 2
I dont think amd can use tsmc manufacturing node. AMD uses their own silicon on insulator process. correct me if I'm wrong but i doubt they can just port this straight over to a completely new process (i.e. not just smaller)


RE: Asset Lite?
By vtohthree on 3/28/2008 7:39:19 AM , Rating: 2
AMD uses TSMC to make their GPU's. AKA ATi.

I'm excited about this news because TSMC supplies chips for both AMD(ATI) and Nvidia, and the further they advance, the further our GPU's will advance.


RE: Asset Lite?
By teldar on 3/29/2008 5:16:31 PM , Rating: 2
I have read some things that they are not able to do all the same processors on the same processes. Not sure why. I'm not even going to begin to say I know much about fabs, but I have read that AMD most likely can't make their GPU's at their CPU fabs, however, if SUN is having TSMC make their cores, I would imaging their process must be pretty good. I would imagine it would behoove AMD to do a little better design research and spend less on the fabrication process.... Anyway, what does Chartered have that TSMC wouldn't? Chartered was making CPU's for AMD, and I'm not positive, but I believe they were doing the SOI for them as well....


"We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs

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