IBM Quietly Starts to Make Chips for AMD

AMD's Fusion Chips Are Made by IBM

by Anton Shilov
02/05/2012 | 04:17 AM

FOLLOW UP: AMD Denies Building Chips at IBM's Factories.


Advanced Micro Devices has disclosed at an analyst event that it had begun manufacturing of its chips at IBM's facilities. The partnership is believed to ensure AMD's ability to supply its next-generation A-series Fusion chips code-named "Trinity" to PC makers and be in position to compete against Intel Corp.'s Core i-series future products.

"We win together, we have partnership in good times and in difficult times. What we are seeing is a focus on execution running test chips through the [production] line to gather the data [...] with partners from IBM and Globalfoundries," said Rory Read, chief executive officer of AMD.

Officially, AMD produces its central processing unit (CPUs) exclusively at Globalfoundries (GF), a contract manufacturer of semiconductors controlled by an Abu Dhabi-based financial organization called ATIC and AMD. The chip designer complained throughout 2011 about low production yield at Globalfoundries and even signed an agreement under which it paid GF on per working chips basis, not on per wafer basis.

Production of chips at IBM facilities means a number of things, the most important of which is increased ability to compete in terms of volume with Intel. While Intel runs more than five leading-edge semiconductor making fabs across the world and those facilities by definition can produce times more chips than IBM and GF combined, it is clear that added manufacturing capacity will be good for AMD.

For a number of times AMD noted about better availability of Trinity APU compared without elaboration. Apparently, better availability is conditioned by adding a new manufacturing facility as well as improved design of the chip itself.

According to performance benchmarks conducted by AMD, the Trinity 35W APU with Piledriver-class x86 cores will provide 25% better x86 performance compared to Llano 35W (with K10.5+ "Husky" x86 cores) based on results obtained in PC Mark Vantage Productivity benchmark. AMD also claims that Trinity 35W will offer up to 50% better result in 3D Mark Vantage performance benchmark compared to Llano 35W.