AMD Constrained on 40 nm GPUs From TSMC – 2010-01-22 00:28:28 | Semiconductor International
AMD executives said the company is “heavily constrained” now on shipments of its 40 nm graphics processors, made at TSMC. “We are seeing progress both in the delivery of wafers and the underlying yields. But we are constrained today,” AMD CEO Dirk Meyer said.
David Lammers, News Editor — Semiconductor International, 1/21/2010
The ability of Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD, Sunnyvale, Calif.) to sell its newest-generation graphics processors has been “heavily constrained” by limitations at its main foundry, said AMD CEO Dirk Meyer.
|Dirk Meyer, CEO, AMD|
“We could have done a lot more business,” Meyer said in a conference call following the company’s release of Q4 financial results. “We are seeing progress both in the delivery of wafers and the underlying yields. But we are constrained today.” Meyer added that he expects the supply constraint to continue.
AMD’s ATI graphics operation has received acclaims for its DX11 line of graphics processors, made largely at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (TSMC, Hsinchu, Taiwan) on its 40 nm process. TSMC has been working to deliver more 40 nm wafers to its customers, and has cited “chamber matching” issues as an impediment to 40 nm yields in recent quarters.
One analyst said that customers are “fighting over” the supply of the DX11 chips, and asked when AMD will no longer be supply-constrained. Much of AMD’s production remains at 55 nm, on the DX10 product family, according to Meyer. “A substantial amount of our shipments were still on 55 nm in the fourth quarter,” he said, adding, “We have a lot of demand for the DX11 products.”
The AMD executives said the company will begin shipping its Fusion line of integrated CPU-GPU products late in 2010. The integrated Fusion products will compete for market share with the discrete graphics processors, Meyer said. AMD is expected to ship Fusion first on a silicon-on-insulator (SOI) technology, and follow that with a bulk Fusion product.
Analysts questioned how the AMD-GlobalFoundries relationship will play out this year. Earlier this week, the Reuters news agency said the Abu Dhabi Advanced Technology Investment Corp. (ATIC) had petitioned German government authorities about a plan for ATIC to acquire the remaining portion of GlobalFoundries now owned by AMD.
|Thomas Seifert, CFO, AMD|
On the conference call, AMD CFO Thomas Seifert — a former Qimonda executive — said reports that AMD would completely divest its share of GlobalFoundries were not accurate. “Some of the filing with the German authorities was misunderstood,” Seifert said.
For this year, AMD will report its manufacturing costs in a fixed-cost mode, but that will shift to a variable-cost model next year, Seifert said. AMD has “completed its 45 nm transition” at the Dresden fabs. “There is room to improve on the fab utilization at Dresden, and there is room to improve on the yield,” he said.
This year AMD will be a “product company only,” Seifert said, adding that it would transition to purchasing wafers from GlobalFoundries.
The conference call left open the question of whether ATIC will seek to completely take ownership of GlobalFoundries.
“The recent filing with the German authorities is simply consistent with the long-announced plan for AMD to gradually become fabless, which was one of the key strategies behind the creation of GlobalFoundries,” said Brian Lott, executive director of communications at ATIC. “As ATIC invests more in GlobalFoundries over time, it will incrementally increase its ownership percentage and as its largest shareholder, will gain sole control over the company.”
Drew Prairie, an AMD spokesman, was asked about the Reuters report. “We are not selling our stake. We have said we expect our stake to decline over time,” he said. “This is simply related to the ATIC acquisition of Chartered and the combination of Chartered/GlobalFoundries into a single operating entity.”