Graphics processing unit shortages are expected to last for the rest of the year, but at least the situation is gradually improving, assuming a recent rumor is true and not just there for our ease of mind.
A certain report
claims that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company
's 28nm node has attained a yield of 80%.
For those unfamiliar with the terminology, this means that 80% of all 28nm chips are now working as they should, instead of having defects severe enough to render them unusable.
Not all imperfect chips on a wafer are useless, of course. Many of them can have parts disabled and eventually end up in lower-end video cards.
The most recent example is NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 660 Ti
. Even though it comes with the same GK104 core as on the 680, it has 1,344 CUDA cores instead of 1,536.
It is a testament to NVIDIA's engineering that, even so, the GTX 660 Ti qualifies as a mid-to-high end adapter, rather than a low end model.
Truth be told, low-end add-in-boards don't make much sense anymore, with almost every new consumer CPUs including a GPU of their own.
Still, the 28nm manufacturing process has so far been incapable of meeting demand from NVIDIA and AMD, and Qualcomm for that matter.
TSMC hopes to satisfy demand for these major clients by the end of the fourth quarter, if not a bit sooner. It would definitely be a nice surprise after repeated predictions that the problem will last until 2013.
All we can hope for is that sufficient chip supply will lead to price cuts for all 28nm video controllers, but we won't be holding our breaths for that. AMD's Radeon series has already experienced such a phenomenon (twice)
, but it was owed to NVIDIA's strong competition, nothing else.
The only way for chip supply to prompt a reduction in average selling prices would be for GPUs to somehow end up in a situation similar to the one on the DRAM
markets, which is highly unlikely.