Although Advanced Micro Devices has not revealed any details about its 2015 roadmap this year, the company continues to unveil pieces of the puzzle. Last week the firm implied that it will use 20nm fabrication process for select products, but on Tuesday AMD hinted that products made using 14nm and 16nm FinFET manufacturing technologies could emerge only in 2016.
“We will continue to transition and we have our FinFET designs well underway, but we will not be the first user, the bleeding edge of any new technology node,” said Mark Papermaster, chief technology officer of AMD, at Barclays Global Technology Conference. “You will see us be a very, very fast follower, so we are right on track with our FinFET designs and what you will see next year is a really 28nm and 20nm products from AMD.”
According to publicly available information from AMD, all of the company’s upcoming accelerated processing units aimed at high-volume market – code-named “Carrizo”, “Carrizo-L”, “Kaveri”, “Seattle” and other – will be made using 28nm process technologies. AMD also said that the first system-on-chips that belong to the Skybridge product family of ARM and x86 chips will also be made using 20nm fabrication process. Finally, there is 20nm Xbox One SoC in plans as well as 20nm graphics processing units.
Keeping in mind that AMD has not announced any 14nm or 16nm products, it is possible that the first commercial chips made using the aforementioned process technologies are on track to be released sometimes in 2016.
TSMC plans to start volume production of chips using 16nm FinFET process technology in late Q2 or early Q3, 2015. If AMD introduces its 20nm graphics processing units early in the year, it will have a competitive GPU lineup for several quarters. However, if the company is late with its introduction, it will not be able to enjoy any advantages of TSMC’s 20nm fabrication process. AMD’s arch-rival Nvidia, who reportedly plans to skip 20nm and use 16nm FinFET instead, will rely on 28nm GPUs until the end of the third quarter of 2015. AMD should release 20nm GPUs in the Q1 2015 in order to have performance and power consumption advantage over its competitor.
GlobalFoundries plans regarding 14nm FinFET technology it licensed from Samsung are not completely clear. Samsung should be ready with 14nm manufacturing capacity even now, but the situation with GlobalFoundries is uncertain.
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KitGuru Says: Outdated process technologies may not be a big problem for AMD (even if it offers 20nm GPUs while Nvidia sells 16nm chips). A really important issue could be products that are not competitive against offerings from AMD’s rivals…