During its Q2 2011 earnings conference, AMD’s interim-CEO Thomas Seifert revealed that AMD already has working samples of GPUs using a 28nm fabrication process. AMD claims it is on track to introduce a revamped lineup of GPUs codenamed “Southen Islands” using the new process later this year. AMD expects to lead the graphic processor industry’s transition to the 28nm process.

AMD has tapped both Globalfoundries and TSMC to manufacture the new GPUs on their 28nm process. But since both the processes are vastly different, AMD would need independent GPU designs for each foundry. In spite of the risks, the cost savings from moving to the 28nm process should be significant, assuming good yields. Considering AMD’s GPU business lost $7 million this quarter, this is definitely good news.

It’s always a gamble to design complex GPUs on a cutting-edge process; Nvidia learnt it the hard way with the Geforce FX Series (NV30) back in the day when it was manufactured on the 130nm process. Let’s hope AMD has a better luck.

Source: AMD Q2 2011 Earnings Conference via Xbit Labs

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  • Stahn Aileron - Thursday, July 28, 2011 - link

    "AMD has tapped both Globalfoundries and TSMC to manufacture the new GPUs on their 28nm process. But since both the processes are vastly different, AMD would need independent GPU designs for each foundry."

    I hope that means each foundry gets a different class of GPU to produce. Like say, TMSC gets the 79xx-series and Global gets the 77xx-series. I really don't want to be playing lottery with GPUs if BOTH foundries produce GPUs AMD markets under the same brand name.

    Person A: "I just got myself a hot new 7980!"
    Person B: "Which version? One from TMSC or one from Global?"
    Person A: "Huh? What's the difference? Does it matter?"
    Person B: "Different designs for each manufacturer due to process differences..."
    Person A: "Uh, laymans please?"
    Person B: "Your performance mileage will vary depending on which design you got."

    It's kinda of like the SSD thing with I think OCZ? I believe there was a noticebale performance discrepancy in a single SSD model line from them depending on if it used I think Toshiba or IMFT NAND chips. I do'nt recall the exact details, but I know AnandTech covered it.
  • Paulman - Thursday, July 28, 2011 - link

    I don't think it's quite the same with GPU's or CPU's. The problem with the NAND chips that were produced by different foundries is that the specs (i.e. speeds) turned out different as a result. If the same GPU was being fab'd at two different foundries, they would either perform exactly the same or the clocks would be different. If the clocks were different, it would be very obvious - and changing the clocks have always meant a different class of product, so it would be unthinkable for AMD to market different clocked chips as the same chip.

    What would be a more likely (but subtle) problem is that the tolerance/overclocking-headroom would likely be different, depending on which foundry it came from.

    But I don't think it makes sense that they'd produce the same chip at two different foundries, because as it was pointed out, you'd have to have slightly different designs for each foundry. What's more likely is what you pointed out - different classes of GPUs being fabbed at different foundries.

    So, I guess in summary: thanks for pointing that the (likely?) possibility that they'll be fabbing different classes of GPUs at the different foundries :P
  • Targon - Friday, July 29, 2011 - link

    Of course, this would also kill some of the mods that would change a lower end product into a higher end product with a simple firmware update, which I am sure AMD would not mind.
  • PubFiction - Sunday, July 31, 2011 - link

    As you said the quality of the chip could be different and this could lead to more heat on one over the other if they were clocked the same. This is what people are worried about. It is unlikely if you think practically about it but companies have been doing it with all sorts of tech products for a long time so maybe it is not really that unlikely.
  • jordanclock - Thursday, July 28, 2011 - link

    I think you'll likely see certain price ranges coming from certain foundries. So 7200-7500 would come from one and 7600-7900 would come from the other. It would be insane to design the whole line up to made by both sides. However, designing products for different product segments for one or the other wouldn't be nearly as intense.
  • Nighteye2 - Sunday, July 31, 2011 - link

    TSMC and GlobalFoundries both use ASML machines for manufacturing - so at their core, processed will be the same. No need to differentiate the designs.

    At 130nm, there were still many major players in the equipment industry - it's not the same as now, where ASML owns 80% of the market...
  • Pantsu - Thursday, July 28, 2011 - link

    According to Xbitlabs AMD will use bulk process which is already different than TSMC HP 28nm Nvidia will most likely use. If the rumors are true, AMD will be ~6 months ahead of Nvidia because the 28nm HP process has problems like 40nm had.

    I don't think AMD will make same GPUs in TSMC and GF. In any case isn't GF still behind TSMC and their 28 nm bulk isn't ready yet?
  • Targon - Friday, July 29, 2011 - link

    In the same way that AMD caught up to Intel with the original Athlon vs. Pentium 3, it is possible that GF managed to catch up in terms of fab process improvements. We have seen that TSMC has had problems moving to a new process node, so with the help of IBM, GF may have caught up.
  • mino - Friday, July 29, 2011 - link

    GF "catch up" with TSMC?

    Let laugh out loud!

    GF is second to only Intel and possibly IBM (if low-volume fabs are considered)

    If you mean the Charered part of GloFo playing catch-up, you better hold your breath. Chartered was actually able to compete in the last cycle maily due to AMD/GF's help and the 28nm will come from Dresden aka "AMD" part of GF, at least the initial stuff, that is.
  • jfelano - Friday, July 29, 2011 - link

    How on Earth did AMD lose 7 million in the gpu business this quarter?? How is that possible when they lead in price/ performance and sales??

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