Advanced Micro Devices remains very optimistic about its ability to ship graphics processing units (GPUs) made using 28nm process technology this year. The company believes that 28nm node will not only provide it an opportunity to offer advanced graphics chips "shortly", but also to get lower manufacturing costs as a result of work with both of its foundry partners.
AMD already has working samples of GPUs produced using 28nm fabrication process and expects to release a number of chips made at 28nm node in calendar 2011. In fact, AMD vows to be the first designer of graphics chips with 28nm-based offerings on the market, which means that the firm wants to again beat Nvidia with time-to-market with leading-edge fabrication process, just like it did with 90nm, 80nm, 65nm, 55nm and 40nm nodes.
"We have working silicon in-house and remain on-track to deliver the first members of what we expect will be another industry-leading GPU family to market later this year. We expect to be at the forefront of the GPU industry's transition to 28nm," said Thomas Seifert, interim chief executive officer of AMD, during the most recent conference call with financial analysts.
Among the natural advantages that 28nm process technologies with high-k metal gate (HKMG) will bring (e.g., ability to increase performance and improve feature-set while maintaining or lowering power consumption or costs), AMD expects that it will be able to manage risks and costs if required since 28nm fabrication process will be offered by both Globalfoundries as well as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company.
"At the 28nm node, all of our products will be based on bulk process technology, providing increased flexibility to work across our two committed and valued partner. [...] [With the introduction of 28nm process technologies], our flexibility to manage risk across the foundry partner ecosystem that we have has significantly increased," said Mr. Seifert.
Even though both Globalfoundries and TSMC both offer 28nm fabrication processes, they are hugely different and AMD will not be able dynamically re-assign manufacturing of particular chips from one foundry to another. Still, thanks to the fact that the two contract makers of semiconductors by definition have higher capacities than one, the ramp of new product family will likely occur faster than typically.
Although AMD did not reveal when the first GPUs made at 28nm node become available it implied that they may emerge on the market earlier than one might expect.
There is the 28nm product coming. That is a great opportunity to grab share again, just like we did with the industry with the DirectX 11; you saw what that did to our revenue. There is another opportunity coming up again here shortly," said Rick Bergman, senior vice president and general manager of products group at AMD.
Later during this year AMD is projected to release its first graphics processing units made using 28nm process technology code-named Southern Islands. The SI family is projected to support DirectX 11 functionality along with architectural improvements and some new features