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Oct 14, 2011

AMD Could Turn to TSMC for Upcoming Bulldozer CPUs

All the manufacturing issues that have affected Globalfoundries' 32 nm HKMG chip fabrication process seem to have made AMD to reconsider its feature strategy since the company is now rumored to be considering TSMC for the manufacturing of its upcoming Bulldozer processors.

This information comes from the Turkish Donanim Haber website, which states that it has found out from some unnamed sources that AMD is seeking to expand its ties with TSMC.

The chip maker is reportedly interested on turning to TSMC for manufacturing its upcoming processors based on the Bulldozer architecture, as it has come to be dissatisfied with the performance achieved by Globalfoundries with its 32nm HKMG fabrication process.

Right now, the Taiwanese foundry produces accelerated processing units from AMD's C- and E-Series, but this would be the first time that the chip maker would rely on TSMC for building a chip as complex as Bulldozer.

We first heard about AMD's troubles with the Globalfoundries at the end of September when Thomas Seifert, CFO and former interim CEO of AMD, said the outfit he works for is disappointed with the 32nm production performance achieved by foundry.

Since then, we have seen AMD having to adjust its projections for Q3 revenue in order to make up for the poor yields achieved in the production of the Llano APUs.

These yield issues also led AMD to revise its chip fabrication deal with Globalfoundries in April of this year in order to pay only for the good chips that are manufactured by GloFlo and not for the wafers coming out of production.

Considering the recent issues faced by the Globalfoundries it would make a lot of sense for AMD to search for another partner for the fabrication of its CPUs, but there are a few things that make TSMC an unlikely candidate.

The first one is that even if the foundry has managed to deploy the HKMG (high-K metal gate transistor) technology in production this is only in its infancy, and, even more importantly, TSMC doesn't have a 32nm bulk node, as this was scrapped in favor of 28nm.

Redesigning a chip for 28nm manufacturing is a price and lengthy process, so I doubt that AMD has the resources required for such a transition at this point in time.


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