Qualcomm, Nvidia said to approach other foundries for 28nm production
Cage Chao and Josephine Lien, Taipei; Jessie Shen, DIGITIMES [Tuesday 17 April 2012]
The reported tight supply of chips built using TSMC's 28nm process technology is likely to drive Nvidia and Qualcomm toward other foundries as a second source, industry sources have revealed. Nvidia has begun sampling its chips on Samsung Electronics' 28nm process technology, the sources indicated. The GPU vendor contracts only TSMC to manufacture its products at present.
Also acknowledging the tightness of TSMC's 28nm manufacturing capacity, Qualcomm has approached United Microelectronics (UMC) and Globalfoundries for additional capacity, the sources observed.
TSMC reportedly is having yield problems with its 28nm nodes causing the difficulty in ramping up the process capacity. There is also speculation that the foundry had been trying to control the availability of its 28nm capacity as insufficient yield rates would affect its gross margin performance.
In other news, despite TSMC's recent remarks on plans to further expand capacity for 28nm, the upcoming new capacity is unlikely to help the firm ease the tight supply until the first quarter of 2013, according to sources at fab tool makers.
Orders for TSMC's 28nm process nodes in the first quarter of 2012 were about five times larger than those received in the fourth quarter of 2011, the sources noted. The surge in orders has prompted the foundry to accelerate the pace of capacity expansion and set a higher capex target for 2012, the sources said.
TSMC recently unveiled plans to announce an upward revision to its 2012 capex at an investors meeting scheduled for April 26.