The industry-wide move to the 28nm manufacturing process has been slowed by the 28nm manufacturing struggles suffered by TSMC and other for-hire chip fabricators. Poor 28nm yields have adversely affected product availability for several of TSMC's partners, to the point that Nvidia and Qualcomm were rumored to be threatening to take their business elsewhere. Those dark days may be (mostly) behind, however, as TSMC's 28nm production skyrocketed in the second quarter.
For processors, smaller is super, but bigger is better for the wafers the processors are made from. Earlier this week, the Taiwan government gave TSMC -- which manufactures chips for virtually everybody -- permission to build a new $10 billion facility dedicated to creating 450mm-wide wafers, up from the 300mm-wide wafers being developed today. Intel also has plans to move to 450mm wafers. Larger diameter wafers yield more processors, which lowers production costs and makes everybody happy. Just don't expect them to come easy.
AMD's already released high-end and low-end versions of its new Radeon 7000 lineup, but we've barely heard anything about Nvidia's upcoming Kepler GPUs. When will the first 6xx products launch? Heck, what season will Kepler launch in? Your guess is as good as ours. (At least there are spec rumors floating around.) We know one thing for certain, however; the yields of the 28nm wafers used to make Kepler GPUs have been horrible, and it's going to cost Nvidia big in the upcoming months.
Poor yields and other challenges associated with the 28nm manufacturing process have Nvidia's and AMD's add-in board (AIB) partners starting to voice concerns about next generation GPUs, specifically Kepler (Nvidia) and Southern Islands (AMD). Both chip designers are turning to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) to produce 28nm chips, and the lingering concern is that past issues may again present themselves.