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Advanced Micro Devices may use manufacturing capacities it has next year to produce chipsets for its core-logic partners, according to the company’s CEO. While this is not exactly a news, as AMD has been talking about utilization of potentially idle capacities for more than a year, this once again confirms that the company has no plans to upgrade the Fab 30 leaving it for making not very complex chips.

“It’s entirely possible that some of that [excess] capacity can be part of a partnership with a chipset manufacturer… In any event, AMD definitely plans to deepen relationships with its chip-set partners in coming years, which could help the company produce better chips,” said Hector Ruiz, AMD’s CEO and President, reports PCWorld.

With recent strong success in the central processing units market AMD may not have excessive capacities in the Fab 36, but later on may have some in the Fab 30. The company indicated during a recent conference call that the Fab 30 will not be upgraded in the near future, but will make the company’s value microprocessors, embedded products and some other offerings which do not require leading edge manufacturing process. Given that chipsets are not as complex as central processing units, Advanced Micro Devices will have an ability to offer its production capacities to its chipset partners.

Still, there are some possible issues with such attempts. Fabless semiconductor companies develop their products using libraries of elements from their foundry partners, such as IBM or TSMC. AMD also has such libraries, but its 90nm SOI process technology resembles that of IBM, but not TSMC, which means that design teams who rely on the latter would either change their designs, or continue their collaboration with TSMC.

Currently only NVIDIA Corp. outsources production of some of its chipset products, particularly NVIDIA nForce4 Intel Edition SPP, to IBM’s 130nm nodes.

The manufacturing capacity of AMD’s Fab 36 which will begin to manufacture commercial products in the first half of 2006 will be 13 000 300mm wafers per month, furthermore, once required, the the building itself allows AMD to expand the foundry to produce up to 20 000 wafers per month. AMD’s current Fab 30 manufactures 20 000 wafers per month, but those are smaller 200mm wafers.

The 300mm equipment for 65nm chips installed in IBM’s East Fishkill, New York, foundry and to be set up in AMD’s Fab 36 in Dresden, Saxony, will be “pretty much identical,” the company’s executives indicated in late 2003. Since IBM and AMD co-develop 65nm process together, there will be an option for AMD to make chips for IBM’s clients, such as NVIDIA Corp., to fully engage its manufacturing capacities if they are excessive.

“AMD has discussion underway with several potential partners in one form or another”. [Co-manufacturing with IBM] will be a natural thing to consider,” said Hector Ruiz in late 2003.

AMD’s arch-rival Intel Corp. also uses fabs with previous generations of technologies for production of chipsets.


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