Much ado has been made over the chip shortage that apparently affected Nvidia's Fermi architecture, but they're not the only ones dealing with a tight supply. According to DigiTimes, supply for AMD chipsets is also running tight. So much so, that AMD is letting foundry partner Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) tap into its 55nm capacity reserved for chipsets to help ease current GPU shortages.
You probably noticed that AMD's high-end HD 5870 and HD 5970 videocards were pretty tough to come by in the second half of 2009, which DigiTimes says was the result of low yields on TSMC's 40nm process. As a result, graphics card partners placed more orders for 55nm Radeon HD 4000 series parts than they otherwise would have.
TSMC's recent 40nm yields have been improving at a steady clip, which should help ease the tight supply of both 40nm and 55nm parts, but part of this is being offset by high demand, DigiTimes says. As it stands, AMD's chipset shortage will likely last throughout the third quarter, and possibly into the fourth.
The shortage of the 40nm ATI Radeon HD 5000 series is being blamed on Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company's inability to keep pace with the demand due to low yields. On the other hand, the dearth of 55nm GPUs is due to the fact that they no longer figure prominently in AMD’s plans.
The report further claims that AMD has delayed the shipment of “its ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5000 series (Manhattan) GPUs for notebooks to the first quarter of 2010 from the originally planned fourth quarter of 2009.”
If you've been thinking about upgrading to Nvidia's GeForce GTX 260 videocard, you may want to hold off for a few weeks. According to Chinese site Expreview, Nvidia will release a new 55nm-based GTX 260 along with a 55nm GTX 295 (GTX 260 GX2) in January 2009. And if history tells us anything, Nvidia tends to do well with core revisions (G92-based 8800GT, for example). Expreview posted several pics of the revised GTX 260, which it claims were sent in from Zotac.
In addition to a die shrink, the new GTX 260, or at least Zotac's version, looks to be built with a 10-layer PCB design rather than 14 layers as found on current GTX 260/280 videocards, Expreview says. The new revision also upgrades its 3+2 phase power modules to 4+2 phase.
Other specs look to remain the same, such as the number of stream processors (216) and core and memory frequencies. This means you might not see a leap in stock performance, but in theory, the power consumption, heat output, and overclocking potential should all be improved.
No word yet on projected pricing, which could either sweeten or spoil the whole deal.
Cost cutting must top Nvidia’s priority list after it lowered its financial outlook for Q2, 2009 and announced $150-200 million product replacement and repair expenses. It plans to cut production costs by making the shift from 65nm to 55nm manufacturing process by the end of the current quarter, according to a Commercial Times report. All of its upcoming GPUs that are expected to be out after August including G94b, G96b and G98b will utilize 55 nm processes. Although the transition will lower production costs by 20%, Nvidia will need to do more than that if it has to wrest some momentum from its resurgent rival AMD.