Posted by alphaatlas 10:30 AM (CST)
Wednesday January 09, 2019
Chip manufacturing processes play a critical role in the performance, and price, of CPUs and GPUs, but the chip making market is different than it was a few years ago. Globalfoundries dropped out of the bleeding edge process race, while rumors suggest that Intel's fabs aren't really a viable option for outside customers. That leaves Samsung and TSMC as the only major manufacturers that can produce high performance chips on a 7nm or smaller process. AMD has already announced products built on TSMC's 7nm process, while Nvidia's future "Ampere" chips will allegedly come from Samsung.
Unfortunately, the "Xnm" terminology seen in marketing materials is often misleading, as processes from different companies that claim to be on the same node can have wildly different characteristics. So SemiWiki talked to an "internationally recognized semiconductor expert" to compare the 7nm processes from the two companies. Thanks to cageymaru for the tip.
If you look at the foundry landscape, TSMC has the advantage because they are TSMC, the trusted foundry partner with the most mature and complete ecosystem bar none. TSMC is also a process technology leader and fierce competitor... The market for Samsung Foundry as I see it is three-fold: They are not TSMC. Capacity is not an issue with Samsung and it is always good to have foundry options. TSMC and Samsung are the only two leading edge foundries left so this is a much bigger point than most imagine. Technology: Leading edge fabless companies look for the best technology that will also meet their time to market requirements. Samsung was ahead of TSMC at 14nm and they did quite well at that node. At 10nm and 7nm Samsung was a bit behind TSMC but Samsung 7nm had EUV before TSMC so some fabless companies are now leading with Samsung. Pricing: Samsung has the best wafer pricing the industry has ever seen. Being the largest memory manufacturer does have its advantages and wafer pricing is one of them.