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Print 30 comment(s) - last by MrBlastman.. on Oct 26 at 12:16 PM

New 28nm GPUs are on their way

The Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has announced that its 28nm node has achieved mass production, and the first 300mm wafers have been delivered to its customers. The firm is most famous for producing GPUs for the graphics arm of AMD and NVIDIA.

TSMC has several 28nm processes for its customers, generally varying according to the intended application. The 28nm High Performance (28HP) process is for graphics chips, while the 28nm High Performance Low Power (28HPL) process is for mobile graphics.  28nm Low Power (28LP) and 28nm High Performance Mobile Computing (28HPM) will be used mostly for ARM processors, but there will of course be some overlap. 28HP, 28HPL and 28LP are currently in volume production, while 28HPM will be ready for mass production by the end of this year.

Although the company is optimistic about its latest technology, TSMC has had problems with launching new nodes in the past. Delays and problematic yields in the 40nm process led to shortages of Radeon HD 5800 series video cards during 2009 and 2010.

The subsequent Radeon HD 6000 series (Northern Islands) family was originally designed for TSMC's 32nm HKMG process. That entire node was scrapped due to various problems, and all of its engineering resources were put into the 28nm process instead.

AMD ended up having to redesign Northern Islands for 40nm, leading to significant launch delays. The GPUs ended up being bigger than intended, resulting in higher production costs, lower clock speeds, and higher energy consumption compared to the original 32nm design.

The latest chips for AMD will be in the Southern Islands series, which will supplant the Radeon HD 6000 series. The first cards are to be released by the end of the year, but the current production schedule could indicate a launch as early as the end of November. The first AMD 28nm GPUs taped out earlier in the spring, and the company has already demonstrated them several times at various industry events.

NVIDIA's Kepler GPUs have also taped out at 28nm, but will not be launched until Q1 of 2012. Sources have indicated that the chip is quite large and yields are not yet high enough to ensure a successful launch at this time.

Other notable 28nm customers for TSMC include Xilinx, Qualcomm, and Altera. More than 80 of TSMC's customers have already taped out at 28nm. As the largest semiconductor foundry in the world, this process is not only vital to TSMC, but the entire semiconductor industry. Delays will not only affect TSMC, but slow down the advance of technology. Competitor GlobalFoundries is not expected to begin mass production of its own 28nm process until 2012.


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RE: Awesome
By Reclaimer77 on 10/24/2011 10:41:29 PM , Rating: 1
I think the playing field is pretty level.

What I have discovered in my own personal use and other anecdotal evidence from benchmarks and being active on game forums is this: ATI/AMD makes great cards, but the Nvidia equivalent just runs better in the actual game. Most games seem better optimized for Nvidia cards, I'm not sure why that is, but I have come across that case a lot.

Nvidia really works with developers to make sure games run great on their cards. I can barely find any examples of this being the case with AMD.


RE: Awesome
By LordSojar on 10/25/2011 3:22:17 AM , Rating: 3
Clearly you AMD card users haven't used an nVidia card lately. Considering the GTX 500 series are better than the equivalent AMD cards in performance and are just about inline in pricing... it baffles me as to why you'd choose an AMD card at this exact moment. Sure, maybe at launch, but buying at launch is a bit silly considering driver bugs, optimization and possible problems that need ironing out in A0 or A1 silicon. Typically, it's best to wait for A1 (if A0 was the start) or A2 silicon... at the very least.

Oh, and AMD's drivers aren't that great at any technical purposing. They are buggy as all get out for anything involving Crossfire on extremely new games, sluggish to add profiles and suffer, generally speaking, from more microstutter when compared to SLi equivalents.

I will say, AMD's cards are very good for gaming, but anymore, I expect my GPU to do more than just gaming. Having CUDA support is great for a plethora of uses, and let's face it... Stream is absolutely a joke... AMD is trolling the CS community I think.

The 3 big improvments AMD needs to make, and I think they'll cover the first of these, are:

1). Better GPGPU architecture
2). No ads in the Catalyst Control Panel (Really? No...)
3). Better optimization of Stream or adopting CUDA (nVidia has offered to give them license to use it... AMD refused)
4). Addressing driver support post new product release (older AMD cards, especially the dual GPU variants become absolutely terrible with a new Catalyst complete version update)

The 7000 series leaked architecture is oddly similar to what nVidia has been doing with their CUDA centric architecture, and that's a good thing.

Sure, the GTX 465/470/480 were jokes... but that was a major change for nVidia on a new process, so it was to be expected. I waited for the refinement which came as the GTX 460, and now I own a 580 and couldn't be happier. Prior to the dual 460s, I owned an XFX 5870, and I loathed that card to the very core because of CCC and the god awful excuse for GPGPU code they call Stream. AMD needs to step up their software game more than anything... nVidia's cards might be power hogs, but they have some heavy lifting power behind that, and honestly... who doesn't have a PSU that large if they are buying the really high end nVidia cards? Cmon now.....


RE: Awesome
By tamalero on 10/25/2011 11:18:17 AM , Rating: 2
The reason AMD doesn't want to use cuda is..
CUDA is proprietary.
The stream language AMD uses is opensourced.

btw, what is this "plethora" of uses you keep claiming?


RE: Awesome
By Reclaimer77 on 10/25/2011 2:58:51 PM , Rating: 2
Why are you talking to me like I'm some rabid AMD fanboi? Did you even read my post?


RE: Awesome
By FITCamaro on 10/26/2011 11:23:10 AM , Rating: 2
Nvidia spends a lot more money to make sure games run well on its cards. Probably simply because if they lose their GPU business, the entire company goes down. That's why they're branching into smartphones and tablets now. With the loss of being able to make chipsets for Intel, they lost a huge chunk of revenue.

AMD just doesn't have the money to. Is Nvidias OpenGL drivers better though? Yes. Always have been.


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