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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 Samus on 10/25/2011 3:06:09 AM , Rating: 0
I agree. ATI drivers have never been on par with nVidia. nVidia's unified driver architecture is what made them famous in the first place. AMD (ATI) still has this lingering feel of Rage-quality drivers in all of their products.

Various linux distributions have historically not even booted up without disabling certain functions of the GPU because the 'certified linux distribution' drivers bundled with those distro's have such chronic bugs with newer GPU's.

That never happens with an nVidia driver, because the chips are designed in progression where as AMD completely revamps its architecture series-after-series to little benifit and ultra-high R&D costs.

It's all about the software. 28nm, lower price, lower power, higher performance, whatever. I'm tired of AMD bundling adware in their drivers (really, a WOW icon now?) and having crappy OS support.

AMD completely kicked nVidia's ass in lower power and performance through the Radeon 3000 series but what now? The Radeon 4870 was the launch competitor to the GTX460 in 2009 and now look at them, the Radeon 4870 sells for <$60 and the GTX460 has substantially improved in performance over the years with driver tweaks and yield improvements, it still sells for $150. Tell me what was a better investment.

I haven't had a compelling reason to purchase AMD GPU's or CPU's in years. It's just not a solid purchasing decision.


RE: Awesome
By Amoro on 10/25/2011 1:03:45 PM , Rating: 3
The GTX 460 was launched on July 10th 2010. I have no idea what you're talking about. in the 2nd to last paragraph.


RE: Awesome
By xrodney on 10/25/2011 5:07:41 PM , Rating: 2
He evidently do not know what he is talking about HD4870 was released in 2008 as competitor to Fermi (aka GTX 280) and it was very good card. It make to switch back to Ati after 3 generations of overheating 5700,6600,8800 cards with graphic driver crash about every 2nd day even when not playing.

Maybe I ma biased, but I was happy with 4870x2 (except some CF issues) and mine current 5870. And I will probably go for HD 7970 or whatever will be fastest single AMD GPU as 5870 still doesn't have enough performance to max at 2560x1600 I am using last 3 years.


RE: Awesome
By Samus on 10/25/2011 8:37:18 PM , Rating: 1
I simply meant 5870, not 4870.


RE: Awesome
By kaalus on 10/26/2011 7:42:39 AM , Rating: 2
So please tell me where you can find HD5870 for $60, as you claim in your post.

Also I don't know how you can compare 5870 to a GeForce 460. 5870 eats 460 for breakfast with at least 50% more performance.


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