SANTA CLARA, Calif. A top foundry executive tried to put a positive spin on the announcement Advanced Micro Devices will spin off its fabs into a new foundry, suggesting the move will expand the market for its shared 32-nm process technology. That node could be the next big enabler for the industry, said Kevin Meyer, vice president of industry marketing and platform alliances at Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing.
Meyer noted AMD's decision included participating in bulk CMOS development in the IBM-led Common Platform Alliance. AMD's participation will help "grow the pie" for the group's process technologies, he said.
AMD was Chartered's second largest customer last year as a second source for silicon-on-insulator technology. In a video interview, Meyer suggested the AMD shift could lead to the company shifting its graphics processors to the Common Platform processes.
Both Meyer and ARM Ltd. chief executive Warren East talked about the benefits of the coming 32nm process technology in keynotes at the ARM Developer's Conference here.
East said 32 nm will yield low power processors running at more than a GHz and CPUs running at more than 2 GHz at full power. Meyer said 32nm will deliver 1.7 times the performance of the 45nm process at same power or 2.8 times its performance at twice the power level.
"When you put your foot on the gas, this baby's gonna go," said Meyer.
The Chartered executive said chip makers are getting ahead of their customers by rolling out new process technologies every two years.
"Systems companies are not keeping up," Meyer said. "People are starting to skip modules.
"A lot of people did not move to 90 nm, but skipped to 65nm, and I think a lot of people will skip 45 nm to move to 32 nm," he added.
The 32-nm node will not ramp into volume production until at least late 2010, Meyer said, although Chartered can let customers make prototype chips in IBM's fabs before that time.