"Foundries have come under pressure to release cell libraries too early – which end up with designs that don't work," Bryant said. And now TSMC is trying to launch ten 28-nm designs from seven companies because they wish to be seen to be even-handed with all comers, Bryant said. "At 45-nm, only Nvdia was affected. At 28-nm any problems for TSMC will be problems for many customers."
It was reported in late 2011 that Samsung was ramping production of the A6 quad-core application processor for Apple because TSMC had not yet stabilized its own production of the same chip. Apple's continued reliance on Samsung came despite an increasingly litigious battle between the companies at the system level where both are seeking to prevent the sale of the others smart phones because of alleged patent infringements.
In August 2011 TSMC was reported to have begun trial manufacturing of an A6 processor design for Apple but to be redesigning the chip for volume production in the first quarter 2012. One potential reason of the respin is that TSMC plans to use 3-D stacking technologies along with its 28-nm manufacturing process in the production of the A6 for Apple. The use of a specialized silicon interposer and bump-on-trace interconnect may produce specific requirements in the main processor die.
The Apple iPad 3 tablet computer is expected to launch in March 2012, based on the A6 quad-core processor.
In the analysts conference call Chang said: "We have so far completed 36 individual tape-outs and have scheduled another 132 individual product tape-outs in 2012. While three versions of the 28-nanometer technology, the LP, the HP and the HPL have entered volume production, the fourth version, the HPM has entered risk production this quarter and is expected to begin volume production in the second half of this year."
"People whine about foreign oil but foreign monopoly on chip production is just as big a threat."
You make an excellent point; I believe INTC's (surprise) increase in capex is probably geared towards 450 mm wafer processing and quoting the "Godfather" Intel might make Apple an offer they can not resist. 2011 was very unique year exposing risks related to offshore outsourcing.
I can think of Apple and Intel working together to create a best of breed SoC (manufactured at 450 mm). IMHO too many US based fabless chipmakers are competing for advanced technology capacity. An usually a foundry process is more or less a one size fits all process - it's probably good but not as perfect as it could be finetuning all parameters for one specific customer.
Yield data is usually top secret info but TSMC is ramping up BIG time (for TSMC standard) in
Q1 2012 - however TSMC added almost no additional 300 mm capacity in second half of 2011 according to TSMC quarterly report:
According to latest quarterly report TSMC added 92 units of 300 mm wafer starts in 2011; in Q1 2012 alone TSMC is adding 71 units of 300 mm wafer starts (Fab 12, Fab 14).
So TSMC is playing catch up but according to ASML who keeps excellent track of what is going on at customer base TSMC's capacity additions for 28nm are far away from what would be required to make 28nm main stream.
So I would not write off TSMC prematurely but I just can't see someone like Apple continue to depend on TSMC when 450 mm becomes mainstream.
And Samsung is becoming more and more a competitor for Apple.
Apple picked up a "ton" of WiFi related IP from Freescale over the last six months or so - obviously it's patented but would you be comfortable to disclose this kind of knowledge with someone like Samsung who is direct competitor?
I certainly would not.
Jun 6, 2011 Ė Intel CFO Stacy Smith is on record saying that combining other chip design IPs with Intel's architecture core "would be fantastic business for us. ...
450mm is a cost reduction measure that squeezes more die on a wafer. It has nothing to do with "technology" leadership. It's the transistor dimensions and die size that are important. 22nm & 14nm will be on 300mm before they bring up 450mm.
Well, if TSMC can't make a lot of good 28nm dice, then that probably explains why AMD's cancelled most of their 28nm Fusion products (Deccan/Wichita, etc.). Better to use them to make high ASP GPUs than low-ASP APUs.