28nm Shortages Quite Severe at TSMC

Either yields are poor or demand form AMD, NVIDIA and Qualcomm is too high

By on April 6th, 2012 11:39 GMT

It looks like finances are doing bad things to the IT industry again, according to a new rumor that finally sets the record more or less straight in regard to whether or not TSMC is having trouble with its 28nm manufacturing process.

One would think that there would be more truth to all the statements from NVIDIA, Advanced Micro Devices and Taiwan Semiconductor manufacturing Company regarding the 28nm manufacturing process.

Alas, this does not seem to be the case, or at least not anymore.

According to the most recent rumor published by Digitimes, TSMC is actually incapable of meeting demand for chips. Again.

The 40nm node was troublesome enough but, even with all the extra research and assurances, history is repeating itself.

The report makes mention of how yield rates of the 28nm are slowly improving, but this doesn't actually paint a clear picture of what level they are at.

Still, saying that TSMC cannot cope with demand needn't be synonymous with poor manufacturing capabilities.

It can just as easily mean that 28nm yields are good, or at least passable, but that AMD, NVIDIA and Qualcomm simply have been asking for too much.

As a recap, Advanced Micro Devices needs 28nm chips for all its Radeon HD 7000 series of graphics cards, while NVIDIA has finally revealed the GeForce GTX 680. Neither corporation has another supplier to call upon.

Qualcomm, on the other hand, has started to order smartphone chips from United Microelectronics Corp. It still hasn't scraped together enough though.

TSMC would probably solve the whole problem by expanding 28nm foundry capacity, but it doesn't want to do so because it would lead to smaller gross margins.

It will start building the 5th-phase expansion of Fab 14 though (a 12-inch fab in Southern Taiwan Science Park) on April 9. Nevertheless, the total foundry capacity won't go up by more than 10% this year compared to the previous one (2011).

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