The chief executive officer of Nvidia Corp., Jen-Hsun Huang, said in an interview that his company was discussing possibilities to manufacture its graphics processing units and logic chips at Globalfoundries, a joint-venture between Advanced Micro Devices and Advanced Technology Investment Company.
“Globalfoundries is a leading silicon foundry with advanced and outstanding processing technology. We are seriously evaluating and discussing about the possibilities of working with them. As to TSMC, we do regard it as a world-class silicon OEM with flexible strategies. We are working very closely together,” said Jen-Hsun Huang in an interview with Expreview web-site.
Nvidia is the first company to openly admit discussions with Globalfoundries, which is partly owned by AMD that controls Nvidia’s arch-rival – ATI, and evaluation of its capabilities. Still, the head of the fabless semiconductor developer has not provided any details of the negotiations as well as potential plans.
At present Nvidia manufactures 90% of its chips at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) and 10% of products at United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC), according to Mr. Huang. Howevever, Nvidia’s annual report also claims that Nvidia utilizes capacities of Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing, Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) and Austria Micro Systems (AMS).
It is not a secret that TSMC, the world’s largest contract maker of semiconductors, is expanding leading-edge production capacities rather slowly, which impacts Nvidia’s abilities to compete against rivals like ATI or, in the mid-term future, Intel Corp., which is set to release its discrete graphics chips in early 2010. Considering that the main advantage that Intel traditionally has are advanced manufacturing processes, it is crucial for Nvidia to ensure it has relationships with Globalfoundries, the company that has a lot of experience in high-volume production using the latest fabrication technologies.
Globalfoundries plans to start taking orders on manufacturing using 32nm bulk process technology with high-k metal gate dielectrics in the late 2009 and to ramp up production in the first half of 2010. Later next year the company will also be able to offer its customers bulk 28nm HKMG fabrication process.