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AMD looks to TSMC for 28nm Brazos chip

Updated Ditches Globalfoundries shock
Wed Nov 23 2011, 13:07

CHIP DESIGNER AMD will cancel its 28nm Brazos accelerated processing unit (APU) production at Globalfoundries and move to a compeltely new design with chipshop TSMC.

AMD had been planning on shrinking its Brazos APUs down to a 28nm process node with Globalfoundries tipped as its wafer baker of choice. Now Extremetech claims that AMD has pulled the plug on those plans, with a new design in the offing and TSMC to be the chip foundry.

Globalfoundries was the chip fabrication arm of AMD until it was spun off and has remained the fab partner for AMD's CPUs and APUs. AMD ever since its buyout of ATI has used TSMC to fab discrete GPUs, a business that until recently Globalfoundries had said it remained hopeful of winning. Now that hope seems even more distant.

AMD's decision to pull the plug on Wichita - part of the upcoming Brazos APU refresh - was due to either poor design or fab problems with Globalfoundries' 28nm process node, according to Xbit Labs. Given that Extremetech's sources claim a move to TSMC is on the cards with a new design, that suggests both AMD and Globalfoundries could be to blame.

The problem for AMD is that it needs high-yeilding smaller process nodes, and fast. Llano's successor, Trinity, is expected to tip up next year sporting the Bulldozer architecture, but now the firm's plans to replace its Ontario and Zacate APUs are up in the air.

While Trinity sounds like good news for AMD, it desperately needs to curb power draw if it is to compete with Intel, something that comes with smaller process nodes. And, by the end of 2012 it won't be just Intel that AMD will have to worry about, as Windows 8 will bring ARM chips into play as well.

According to reports, AMD will announce its 28nm 'Brazos 2.0' parts during an analysts' call in February.

AMD has issued a statement in which the chip designer confirmed that its Trinity APU and present range of Bulldozer chips will be made by Globalfoundries, all at the 32nm process node.

It said, "Globalfoundries and AMD remain committed as strategic partners across a number of product lines. Globalfoundries produces AMD's 32nm Fusion A-Series APU and will produce the next-generation 32nm APU 'Trinity' that is planned to be available in 2012. Globalfoundries is also producing AMD's 32nm server and desktop processors based on the new Bulldozer Core Architecture."

Of course what is missing from that statement are chips made on the 28nm process node, the very process node at the centre of this rumoured switch to TSMC. AMD's lack of public commitment to Globalfoundries at 28nm given the reports that have surfaced in the past few days should make the folks at TSMC very happy. µ


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