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.
Trouble with TSMC's (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company) 28nm process technology could force Nvidia and Qualcomm to seek out other foundries. In fact, Nvidia reportedly has already started sampling its chips on Samsung's 28nm process technology, representing a significant shift in behavior and a potential huge loss for TSMC, which is currently the sole provider of chips for Nvidia.
Intel’s chip plant in Kiryat Gat, Israel, is about to be upgraded to 22nm production capability, the chip maker said at a news conference. The upgrade will see the company invest around $2.7 billion, including a $210 million grant that was recently approved by the Israeli government. The fab is expected to begin production on 22nm process technology in December, which is in keeping with the late 2011/early 2012 launch of Ivy Bridge processors -- 22nm die shrink of Sandy Bridge. A few months back, Intel announced that it would spend up to $8 billion on similar upgrades to four of its existing plants in Oregon and Arizona and the construction of a new 22nm fab in Oregon.
Globalfoundries has one simple goal -- to become the biggest contract manufacturer of computer chips on this or any other planet. Working towards that goal, the company will increase spending from $2.7 billion in 2010 to $5.4 billion this year, the company's CFO, Robert Krakauer, said in an interview.
The increased spending will be used to upgrade a plant in Dresden, Germany, as well as putting up two new plants, one in New York and one in Abu Dhabi.
Not many chip makers can spend the kind of money Globalfoundries has allocated, the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) being one of the ones which can. TSMC spent $5.9 billion in 2010 and expects to spend even more in 2011. Intel ponied up $5.2 billion last year, and Samsung trumped them all by spending around $10 billion.
According to an EETimes.com report, Intel put to rest all the recent speculation surrounding its new U.S. fab and confirmed it's being constructed to handle 450mm wafers.
As part of a $6 billion to $8 billion investment, Intel is upgrading several U.S. facilities for 22nm production, as well as building the aforementioned fab in Hillsboro, Oregon. This will be known as D1X and it will go live in 2013.
"Intel is very interested in 450mm," said Mark Borh, Intel Senior Fellow and director of process architecture and integration at Intel. "D1X is being (constructed) to be compatible with 450mm."
The upshot to increasing wafer size like this is that Intel can squeeze more chips out of a single wafer and potentially reduce manufacturing costs.
The Middle East is getting its first microchip factory thanks to a massive $7 billion investment by the Abu Dhabi government-owned Advanced Technology Investment Company (ATIC).
You might recognize ATIC as the company behind GlobalFoundries, AMD's microchip business spin-off. ATIC has already plunked down $3.6 billion expanding GlobalFoundries and improving plants in Germany and the U.S.
According to company CEO Ibrahim Ajami, the new facility will ramp up its production between 2014 and 2015. GlobalFoundries will operate the 300mm fab, and with continued investments, has grown to rival chip making stalwart Taiwan Semiconducter Manufacturing Company (TSMC).
Things are all going to plan, said Intel, who is scheduled to begin operations at its 300mm fab in Dalian, China, in 2010. Manning the fabrication plant will be the first batch of graduates from the Semiconductor Technology Institute.
According to Intel, manufacturing with 300mm wafers has a dramatic effect on the company's ability to produce semiconductors at a lower cost. In addition, 300mm manufacturing consumes 40 percent less energy and water per chip than a 200mm wafer factory, the company said.
The site in question was first announced in 2007 as a $2.5 billion project in what would ultimately become the company's first wafer fab in Asia. It was the first time since 1992 with the construction of Fab 10 in Ireland that Intel had built a fab from the ground up.
Ask anyone who's ever been married and they'll tell you how difficult it is to read between the lines. The same holds true in the tech world, where rumors get started with bits and pieces of information pieced together like a puzzle, but the pieces don't always fit. Such is the case involving AMD's fabrication plants in Germany.
With the chip maker struggling to turn a profit and announcing a restructuring plan to get there, some speculated AMD might be gearing up to sell off some of its Fabs. Then more recently AMD's CEO Dirk Meyer told the Austin Amercian-Statesman that it plans to spin the manufacturing operations off into a separate company with new ownership. Could that be taken as confirmation of an earlier rumor?
It can and it was, but AMD is saying not so fast. Contrary to what The Inq maintains is still true, Drew Prairie, an AMD spokesperson, claims Meyer's comments were referring to how the company manufacturers its wafers, and not indicative of any plans to sell off its Fabs.
So while it appears that AMD's fabrication plants are safe for now, this likely won't be the last bit of speculation involving the chip maker. AMD remains tight-lipped about its restructuring plans and 'asset-smart' strategy, and with the recent departure of Hector Ruiz as CEO, it's anyone's guess what the company might be planning. Any guesses?