AMD and Globalfoundries to Make 28nm Parts

In a recent interview, Globalfoundries vice president of manufacturing systems and technology Tom Sonderman said that the company plans to make GPUs using 28nm processes in the near future.

Recently X-bit Labs published an interview with AMD's Tom Sonderman, discussing AMD's spin-off company (or rather the former manufacturing division), Globalfoundries, and its future corporate plans. The four-page interview offers a wealth of knowledge, discussing topics such as the Globalfoundries name, the origins of the company, and the advantages the company will offer in comparison to other existing foundries. However, what stood out in the interview was Sonderman's comment towards the end, when X-Bit Labs asked about AMD outsourcing its chipset and graphics chip production to Globalfoundries.

"We intend on competing for AMD’s graphics business in the 32nm/28nm technology node," he said. However, as X-Bit pointed out, AMD is obliged to require both microprocessors and GPUs from Globalfoundries, as AMD is one of the owners; using the term "competing" may have been inaccurate. Still, Sonderman's answer hints to the possibility that the company may be ready for 28nm processing soon.

Additionally, Sonderman said that the company is already sniffing around for additional clients outside AMD. "We are actively engaging with multiple tier 1 fabless and fablite semiconductor companies who require leading-edge capacity," he added. "We’re not ready to announce any new relationships yet."

Could his comment mean that companies such as Nvidia, Nintendo, and Microsoft are potential clients? "PC platform technologies (CPUs, GPUs), wireless, game consoles, and telecom are a few examples of markets we’re targeting," he confirmed.

Sonderman also indicated that 32nm bulk silicon is already running in Dresden, and will be ready to accept customer designs later this year; it will even offer an aggressive production ramp in 2010. However, he did not offer additional details regarding to 28nm processing, and when the company plans to implement the technology. Stay tuned as Globalfoundries reveals more in the near future.

  • very close to the recent article declaring that 22nm was about the smallest we'll ever see in chips.

    Anyone knows if AMD uses plain silicon chips,or if it follows intel in using the high Metal-K process?
  • eddieroolz
    I think Intel copyrighted the High-K design, so if that's true, then AMD is either still using SOI or another improved process.
  • hannibal
    So they are ready to leave the 40nm technology as an very temporary solution... sounds good, if the rumours about 40nm leakage problems are true.
    But the more important thing to Ati is that it has alternatives when making new GPU's. If one source is in thouble, the other may provide and ansver. I hope that this means no more problems to Nvidia. We still need at least two GPU companies in the market.
    It would be nice to see both ATI and Nvidia to buy their production from Globalfoundries... Not likely, but interestin thing to see ;-)
  • solymnar
    Will be interesting to see what happens near the 20nm "barrier". Either a new technique will have to be implemented or a completely different approach.

    Moore hasn't let us down yet but the physical material limitations are tricky...tricky along the lines of trying to make a room temperature super conductor. Not necessarily impossible but not really doable either with current knowledge.

    Of course...process shrinking isn't the only way to improve performance either.

    I wonder what the odds are of nVidia chips getting produced by Global. It makes business sense but it would be darn ironic.
  • When we get closer to 20nm, you'll need to expect a processor that's less overclockable, and that will warn you less with temperature increase.
    It's more like a sudden fried CPU than a slowly hotter getting cpu.

    Perhaps even a more instable processor, one that at times can perform faster than at other times,and depending from processor to processor.
    Up 'till now processors where more consistent.
    Overclocking on a certain model could be reproduced at home with a similar cpu upto a few percent of the end results. But the smaller we get, the more of that random factor we'll see.

    20nm is excellent for mini netbooks.
  • qwertymac93
    AMD will begin using a high-k procces starting with their 32nm chips(they co-developed it with IBM) however, AMD/IBM use germanium and not hafnium like intel, germanium is likely better in the long run as hafnium has been said to go a little wonky when in the uber small designs(28/22nm). amd didn't need to use a high-k process with their 45nm chips like intel because of SOI. btw, we are likely going to see holographic lasers etching out processors for the 16nm->8nm stages, and by then quantum computers should be able to run more things then just a calculator...
  • solymnar
    I'm still going with the line of thought that quantum processors will start out similar to how math coprocessors were.

    The lines are starting to blur a bit between GPU/CPU steadily as well, especially if you consider how they started vs. where they are now. With nVidia wanting GPUs to take on more processor load, Intel wanting CPUs to take on more graphics load, and ATI wanting to blend the two into a more or less seamless unit.

    So it might come down to a marrying of some of the functionality of GPU/CPUs with a QPU to offload appropriate bits of work. Fun to speculate about anyway. :)
  • "I think Intel copyrighted the High-K design, so if that's true, then AMD is either still using SOI or another improved process."


    Intel uses bulk silicon, the same thing they are talking about in this article. High-k just refers to the transistor gate material. They also use low-k materials. High-k isnt a type of silicon, its just talking about one small piece of the chip.

    AMD uses SOI, which is different from bulk silicon. They also use both high and low k materials on their chip. They aren't using hafnium yet, which is intels current transistor gate material on the 45nm note, but they do plan to use it at the 32nm node i believe.
  • Goodness...people should not be commenting on process tech. AMD plans two bulk Si processes - one with high K, one without high K. Look at the analyst day presentations for details, but I believe the non-highK version was going to be first with the high K shortly thereafter (in 2010). The SOI process which they use for CPU's will be high K only and will lag the bulk Si processes - AMD roadmaps had this toward the middle to end of 2010, and they have 32nm processors on their roadmap showing ~early 2011.

    There is no such thing as Ge oxide for high K as it is does not a high dielectric constant ('k'), the poster is confusing the use of Ge for strain purposes (which Intel pioneered back on 90nm) and high K.

    Also don't confuse 'Si running' with ready for production... to put things in perspective Intel has 22nm Si in their development fabs, but it is nowhere near ready for release.

    Finally 28nm is a 'simple' optical shrink (what some refer to as a 'half-node'); this is not really a big deal from a performance perspective, but helps with cost. This typically is cranking down on litho a bit tighter while tuning some of the other process steps.

    And it was not a matter of AMD 'not needing' high K for 45nm - it just wasn't ready in time, and it is not practical to implement this in the middle of a tech node due to the complexity and risk (despite AMD's claims that it 'was an option for later 45nm'). If AMD were able to implement it on 45nm they would have.