Advanced Micro Devices last week confirmed that it is developing chips that would be made using 20nm manufacturing technology. The company also re-affirmed plans to continue adopting new fabrication processes, including those with FinFET transistors.
“What we have said in the past is [that] this year all of our products are [made using] 28nm [process tech] across graphics, client and our semi-custom business,” said Lisa Su, senior vice president and general manager of global business units at AMD, during a conference call with investors and financial analysts. “We are […] actively in the design phase [of our] 20nm [product line] and that will come to production. Then, clearly, we will go to FinFET.”
Although Ms. Su did not reveal which AMD chips would be the first to adopt 20nm fabrication process, she did say that the new breed of low-power accelerated processing units – code-named Beema and Mullins – are about to enter the market. Since both low-power APUs are made using 28nm process technology and AMD is also about to release new APU models featuring Kaveri design, it is logical to assume that the first AMD products to be made using 20nm fabrication process are graphics processing units (GPUs).
While the senior vice president of AMD did not officially confirm that the first 20nm AMD Radeon GPUs are set to emerge in 2014, her comment regarding coming “to production” may hint on the plan to reveal such GPUs already this year.
Separately, the high-ranking executive of AMD confirmed that the company plans to transit its product line to process technologies that take advantage of FinFET transistors.
Unfortunately, Ms. Su did not reveal whether the company plans to transit to GlobalFoundries 14nm XM hybrid FinFET process technology, 14nm FinFET that will be used jointly by GlobalFoundries and Samsung or 16nm FinFET/16nm FinFET+ fabrication process developed by TSMC.
“If we look at the overall relationship that Global oundries signed with Samsung, I think we view that as a good thing, I think it is good for the industry and it is good for AMD relative to […] getting FinFETs to market sooner,” said the SVP of AMD. “Relative to [our] investment side, I think, from that standpoint, we have a roadmap to go to FinFETs, it is a very important technology for us.”
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KitGuru Says: It is noteworthy that about two years ago AMD said that it did not need the latest process technologies to succeed on the market. It seems that the company is somewhat more aggressive today in terms of transitions to newer fabrication processes. It is pretty obvious that to make price-competitive high-performance GPUs going forward 20nm manufacturing technology is needed. Moreover, if AMD wants to be competitive against Intel, Qualcomm and other makers of system-on-chips for media tablets, it needs to use the latest process technologies as well. This is exactly why AMD reveals its process tech roadmap now: it simply cannot avoid or skip certain manufacturing technologies. The only question is how fast AMD can introduce new chips and whether its pace will actually match that of the foundry industry.