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Apr 13, 2012

NVIDIA Speaks in Favor of 450mm Wafer Plants

In order to make up for the longer time it takes to start production, larger wafers will have to be used in the making of next-generation semiconductors.

NVIDIA has rather bluntly stated that the chip industry is essentially dependent on the opening of manufacturing plants that produce larger wafers.

The main issue with companies like itself, Intel and Advanced Micro Devices is that it takes longer to actually start producing next-generation chips than it did a decade ago.

All the while, they need to be able to launch a new chip every year or so.

As such, since they don't really have as much time to make the units, they need to make more of them at once.

Using 450mm wafer factories is the next logical step, according to the Santa Clara, California-based GPU maker

"A diverse host of new technologies and methods will be needed to keep the industry on track to profitably deliver a trillion-transistor device by the end of the decade. The industry needs to move to 450mm wafers to deal with the increasing number of masks and process steps required to make chips," said Sameer Halepete, vice president of VLSI engineering at Nvidia, according to EETimes website.

The engineer predicts that chips will have up to a trillion transistors by 2020, 232 times more than the most sophisticated GPU of today.

Larger wafers will reduce the price of every chip, but actually making the fabs is more expensive than making facilities for smaller wafers.

Nevertheless, the step is needed, and it is a good thing that more and more companies are joining the effort. After all, AMD and NVIDIA have more than enough on their plate, having to strike the design complexity while also meeting power efficiency standards.

"New process technologies are running out of steam in their ability to lower power because voltages are not decreasing significantly. Thus the next wave of improvements in energy efficiency will come from tools that can suggest optimizations in logic and circuit designs. It is hard for engineers to find more than half or two-thirds of these opportunities," explained Mr. Halepete.


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