Print 52 comment(s) - last by voodoochile123.. on Nov 12 at 3:29 AM

Compute Unit (click to enlarge)

Graphics Core Next (click to enlarge)
Sources claim TSMC's manufacturing is that good

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) is the world's largest semiconductor foundry, and as such is constantly under pressure from its customers and competitors. The company recently announced that its newest 28nm process has entered mass production. Smaller process geometries typically mean that a faster, smaller, and cheaper processor will be available.
Two of TSMC's biggest customers are AMD and NVIDIA. Both have taped out GPU designs using TSMC's 28nm High Performance (28HP) process. AMD's next-generation GPU series is codenamed Southern Islands. The Tahiti GPU is supposed to launch early in December, while NVIDIA's Kepler GPU will launch in February of 2012.
28HP is the first process from TSMC to use High-k Metal Gate (HKMG) technology, as opposed to the typical silicon oxynitride (SiON) found in 40nm GPUs. HKMG uses a material with a high dielectric constant instead of the traditional silicon dioxide gate dielectric. This allows for a substantial reduction in gate leakage, thus lowering overall power consumption and allowing for higher clock speeds.
According to sources within TSMC, the 28HP HKMG process is doing very well. So well, in fact, that it supports up to a 45 percent clock speed improvement over the firm's own 40G process used to make the last two generations of video cards. This speed improvement is based on the same leakage per gate, but the GPU firms may choose to favor lower power consumption over a pure speed boost.
Our AMD contacts declined to respond to these assertions and directed our attention to a presentation made in June at the AMD Fusion Developer Summit by Eric Demers, the Chief Technology Officer of AMD Graphics.
The flip side of the manufacturing process is the architecture and design, and AMD has already previewed the basis for its future graphics architectures, known as Graphics Core Next (GCN). The basic design of GCN will form the foundation for the next few generations of AMD graphics processors.
The fundamental unit of AMD’s previous designs has been the Streaming Processor, utilizing a Very Long Instruction Word (VLIW) architecture designed to take advantage of Instruction Level Parallelism (ILP). That will be supplanted by the Compute Unit, comprised of multiple 16-wide vector Single Instruction, Multiple Data (SIMD) units designed for Thread Level Parallelism (TLP).
L1 and L2 caches will support the CUs, while the GPU will have access to the main system memory. Support for C++ programming has been added, making it easier to program for the GPU and CPU within the same application.

While all of these changes will benefit compute applications, it is not yet clear what impact this will have on current games and those already in the pipeline. The architectural changes may end up helping or hindering performance. Nevertheless, the entire 28nm graphics lineup will support resolutions of up to 16000 x 16000 pixels.
Of course, yields have always been a big problem with introducing a new node. TSMC had significant challenges with its 40nm process, leading to shortages of the Radeon HD 5800 series. HKMG processes typically use atomic layer deposition for high-k materials, which has been a challenge even for Intel.
Ultimately, we know that the next-generation of GPUs will be "significantly" faster, but the effects of the new architecture are still unknown and could change things positively or negatively. The better the performance, the more likely it is to sell out. The final clock speeds are still being determined, so final performance numbers will have to wait until the first official launch. The latest word on the street is December 6.

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

RE: Process isn't everything
By 91TTZ on 11/4/2011 11:56:20 AM , Rating: 3
I can't wait for Intel to BLAST this. Their 3-D tri-gate transistor Ivy Bridge technology makes this look like a JOKE.

Intel wouldn't want to blast this. They're pretty close to having a monopoly in the PC CPU market and they wouldn't want to hurt AMD since that would pretty much unleash the federal government on them. In fact, if AMD were really in danger of going bankrupt, Intel would probably invest a massive amount of money in them to prop them up, similar to what Microsoft did for Apple in the late 90's.


The thing that makes AMD, Nvidia, and ARM so great is amazing engineering and performance per watt, NOT manufacturing.

Actually Intel's latest processors have better performance per watt than AMD's offerings. Haven't you read Anand's article about Bulldozer?

RE: Process isn't everything
By werfu on 11/4/2011 12:57:23 PM , Rating: 2
Bulldozer performance per Watt being low is related to the design AMD has designed. They used a long pipeline while hopping that speed and better branching prediction would reduce the impact. It didn't. The architecture could be good, but it still need significant tweaking to outperform previous K10.5 design. A K10.5 with a die-shink, like the A8350 but without the integrated GPU, would absolutely blast Bulldozer. But after investing so much in Bulldozer, AMD isn't going to scrap it. I do think they'll do what Intel did with the first Core design. It combined the best of the Pentium Mobile and of Netburst. Ultimately they will end up with a better CPU design. And Intel isn't going to let AMD die, as other said, the Damocles sword of anti-trust being already upon them.

RE: Process isn't everything
By Mitch101 on 11/4/2011 1:29:30 PM , Rating: 2
The only benefit I saw in someone getting Bulldozer is if they plan on massively overclocking it. It sure overclocks a lot higher than the previous design but sadly clock for clock the bulldozer is a dud. Still I would probably go for a Intel 2600K and overclock that from all the benches Ive seen.

RE: Process isn't everything
By Da W on 11/4/2011 2:14:52 PM , Rating: 1
Intel is upgrading its process technology so fast that they can't recoup their investment. They sold 45nm Nahalem for a whole year while producing lousy 32nm dual core Clarkdale, because 45nm wasn't done paying for. Same will go with ivy bridge, i guess they will target laptop and you will still be stucked with i72600K on the desktop. Look at the stock price in the past decade, and all that for having nearly destroyed AMD.

RE: Process isn't everything
By someguy123 on 11/4/2011 2:53:07 PM , Rating: 2
Intel's stock has a cap of 124.75B.

AMD has a cap of 3.96B.

You can't simply compare stock prices 1:1. Intel also owns it's foundries. It's not paying off someone for their 45nm chips, unless you mean they're gradually paying off foundry costs, which simply isn't true. New processes have to be tested on a large scale, so it's more likely that the chips were not hitting the yields they wanted, so they sold the underclocked leftovers as "mainstream/low frequency" clarkdales.

RE: Process isn't everything
By Sivar on 11/7/2011 6:31:33 PM , Rating: 3
I work for a semiconductor company.
I assure you that no semiconductor company in the world drops an old process 100% when a new one is available. Equipment is upgraded over time, and that is done, the business processes in place are tuned for new procedures.
Most semiconductors do not need the latest and greatest. Intel's highest-end CPUs might, but their low-end models do not, nor do their network controllers, south bridges, or medical equipment. Did you know Intel makes medical equipment?
The latter is a great example of an industry that wants the most reliable, well-tested, long-lasting products rather than "the fastest." It was be not only logistically impossible, but a terrible business move for them, or any related company, to move every product into a single process.

By Unspoken Thought on 11/6/2011 3:51:03 AM , Rating: 3
Haven't you read Anand's article about Bulldozer?

Is that the only article you read about it? I'll agree that Bulldozer is not ideal for gamers, but it's performance isn't necessarily a downgrade from the phenoms. If you aren't a software or electrical engineer building cpus, I wouldn't put all my eggs in one basket with just one review. I bet there is software that can utilize its advantages, whether AMD supports development of said software is another story.

This isn't towards you, but I see this all the time...

OMG! OMG! Bulldozer is coming out! What? This review says its not so much faster than Intel? Ahhh! Its total crap, and AMD needs to burn for getting my hopes up!!........seriously?

"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki