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Nvidia says TSMC's rivals are knocking on its door

Waiting in the wings for any slip-up
Fri Mar 22 2013, 02:35
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SAN JOSE: CHIP DESIGNER Nvidia said at its GPU Technology Conference (GTC) that other foundries besides TSMC regularly pitch for the firm's business.

Nvidia has used TSMC as its foundry exclusively for many years and generally makes use of its leading edge process nodes as soon as they are qualified. However the company said that due to its order sizes, other foundries regularly pitch for its business.

Sumit Gupta, GM of Nvidia's Tesla GPU Accelerated business unit said TSMC has been a good foundry for the firm, when questioned about whether its upcoming Volta GPU architecture will ask too much from TSMC. Gupta added that due to Nvidia's order size, despite its long-standing relationship with TSMC it regularly gets pitched for business by other foundries, though he wouldn't say who.

Given Nvidia's requirements for leading edge process nodes there are only a few foundries that have the ability to fab Nvidia's chips. Perhaps only TSMC and Samsung have the proven ability to deliver chips at leading edge process nodes at sufficient yield.

Last year TSMC's 28nm customers suffered painful delays as the firm could not meet demand from high profile customers such as AMD, Nvidia and Qualcomm. While AMD and Nvidia didn't say anything in public, Qualcomm took the extraordinary step of rebuking TSMC, saying it would look at rival chip foundries to avoid facing future delays.

Nvidia's move to stacking DRAM in Volta might offer other foundries a chance to break TSMC's stranglehold on Nvidia's business, so it is perhaps not surprising that the chip designer is hearing from TSMC's rivals, reminding it that options exist. However, it seems unlikely that Nvidia will make any changes unless something goes drastically wrong at TSMC. µ


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