Forget about 7nm; that's so 2019 or perhaps 2020. Nvidia is reportedly planning to use TSMC's new 5nm process node, but not for its next-gen Ampere GPUs. Nvidia and AMD are both ramping up TSMC orders for old and new products alike, enough to significantly boost the Taiwanese supplier's profits and counteract coronavirus-related headwinds, according to new information from Digitimes.
Digitimes reported earlier today that "industry sources" informed the Taiwanese outlet that upcoming short lead-time orders will allow TSMC to post strong results for the first half of 2020, even as competitors struggle with fallout from the global pandemic. These sources credit the profit surge to Nvidia's upcoming Ampere GPU release, as well as increased game industry and work-from-home demand for AMD's Ryzen and Epyc processors as Sony and Microsoft respectively gear up for the PS5 and Xbox Series X releases later this year.
The Digitimes article doesn't provide any information on Nvidia's 5nm plans other than to say that the company will be using the TSMC's 5nm process. Team Green is not alone in embracing this die shrink as AMD and Apple are also reportedly placing 5nm orders. AMD will be using the 5nm process for its EPYC Genoa processors to start. It's unlikely that Nvidia's 5nm chip would be for consumer GPUs in the near term, because Ampere, which hasn't come out yet, is known to be 7nm.
While 5nm is on the horizon, AMD is increasing the pace of its 7nm process chip orders. Meanwhile, Nvidia is buying increased quantities of 16nm, 12nm and 7nm nodes, thanks to demand for products across its whole family. Products using 16nm and 12nm nodes include the Tegra X1 processor found in the Nintendo Switch, as well Nvidia's GPUs based on Pascal and Volta architectures, while its 7nm orders are being used for Ampere.
Nvidia's new Ampere architecture will be the key upgrade for its next line of consumer graphics cards, which have yet to receive an official release date. However, if production is gearing up enough to offset pandemic-related losses, that's good news for Ampere hitting store shelves sometime in 2020.
We'll keep you updated if we hear anything about Nvidia's 5nm orders.