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TSMC hits 28nm capacity problems

TSMC hits 28nm capacity problems

TSMC has admitted to have hit capacity problems on its 28nm process node, meaning production issues for AMD, Nvidia and Qualcomm.

Taiwan Semiconductor has confirmed that it is experiencing capacity problems on its 28nm process node, causing issues for customers including AMD, Nvidia and Qualcomm.

According to anonymous industry sources speaking to semiconductor rumour-monger DigiTimes, TSMC's capacity for 28nm-based chips is failing to keep up with the demand from its customers. Some, in particular Qualcomm, are even being forced to look elsewhere with rival United Microelectronics rumoured to be benefiting from the company's troubles.

The news comes almost a month after rumours spread of a complete stoppage of 28nm production at TSMC due to a requirement for modifications to the company's production process. Quite what these modifications were, and why the company needed to stop production entirely to carry them out, was never made clear.

At the time, a TSMC spokesperson told us that 'our 28nm production is normal, and all our 28nm customers are fully aware of our production status.' Now, however, the company is singing a different tune.

Speaking to bit-tech, TSMC's Elizabeth Sun confirmed that there were issues at the 28nm process size. 'We are working very hard trying to solve the 28 nanometer capacity shortage issue,' Sun explained. 'Not only is our fab is trying to squeeze out more output, we are also working on a plan to increase capital spending for 28 nanometer this year.'

But what does this mean for TSMC's customers? If the capacity problems continue, it could have a serious impact on numerous products including AMD's Radeon HD 7970 28nm GPU. Rival Nvidia is also claimed to be feeling the pinch, with a rumoured delay to its next-generation Kepler family of GPUs as TSMC struggles to meet production demand.

As a result, we can expect to see supplies of next-generation graphics parts from AMD limited in the short term, while Nvidia's will likely remain in the shadows until it can be assured demand will be met. Mobile giant Qualcomm, for its part, is rumoured to already be shopping around for another foundry partner to pick up TSMC's slack.

TSMC itself is claimed to be conservative in its 28nm expansion plans until rumoured yields - the percentage of working chips to discarded silicon - are improved, although the company continues its expansion work on Fab 14 with a view to increasing its total capacity 10 per cent over the coming year as part of its planned transition to smaller process sizes.

'For the expansion of Fab 14, we will break ground for Phase 5 tomorrow,' Sun told us late yesterday. 'The plan calls for Phase 5 to be the second fab for 20 nanometer production (after Fab 12, Phase 6). Currently, 20nm technology is in the R&D stage, and we expect to enter risk production by second half of next year.'

9 Comments

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azrael- 9th April 2012, 18:12 Quote
If they're (finally) coming clean now it probably means they messed up with their 28nm process even worse than anticipated.
Elton 9th April 2012, 21:35 Quote
Not really surprising. After all there had to be some explanation as to the absence of new GPU stock.
wuyanxu 10th April 2012, 10:40 Quote
and their sky high prices.
PingCrosby 10th April 2012, 17:53 Quote
'and all our 28nm customers are fully aware of our production status'......these people are microscopic!
Xir 10th April 2012, 18:16 Quote
To quote Jerry Sanders:
"Real men own real Fabs" :-D

Get what you deserve for outsourcing to a foundry
greigaitken 10th April 2012, 20:39 Quote
i dont own a fab:(
Elledan 10th April 2012, 21:25 Quote
And Intel/IBM stockholders rejoice :)
ssj12 12th April 2012, 14:21 Quote
this better explains Nvidia's comments on wanting Intel to be one of their fabs.
Fizzban 12th April 2012, 16:49 Quote
They are getting somewhat of a reputation for this. Unfortunate really as most of us lose out in some way. TSMC might lose custom in the future, AMD/Nvidia/3rd party can't ship cards in the quantities they would like to, and we get cards that cost a bit more than they might otherwise have cost.
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