When AMD began utilizing TSMC’s 7nm course of for the Zen 2 processor household that launched in November 2019, one of many overriding messages of that launch was that it was essential to be on the forefront of course of node expertise to be aggressive. That transfer to TSMC N7 was aided by the small chiplets used within the desktop processors on the time, guaranteeing a better yield and higher binning curves for desktop and enterprise processors. Nonetheless, between from time to time, we’ve seen different corporations reap the benefits of TSMC’s 5nm, 4nm, and discuss TSMC’s 3nm course of coming to market over the following 12-24 months. Throughout our roundtable dialogue with CEO Dr. Lisa Su, I requested if the necessity to keep on the forefront nonetheless held true.
To place this into perspective, AMD introduced late in 2021 that it will be utilizing TSMC’s 5nm course of for its Zen 4 chiplets in enterprise CPUs within the second half of 2022. Then in early 2022, the corporate reiterated using Zen 4 chiplets, however this time in desktop processors once more by the top of 2022. It is a important delay between the primary use of TSMC 5nm by the smartphone distributors, which reached mass manufacturing in Q3 2020, with Apple and Huawei being the primary to take benefit. Even at the moment, if we transcend 5nm, Mediatek has already introduced that its upcoming Dimensity 9000 smartphone chip is on TSMC 4nm and can come to market earlier this 12 months. TSMC’s 3nm course of is predicted to ramp manufacturing on the finish of 2022, for a shopper launch in early 2023. By these metrics, AMD is behind a course of node or two by the point Zen 4 chiplets come to market later this 12 months.
I requested Dr. Su in our roundtable about whether or not the should be on the forefront course of is crucial to be aggressive for them. Having innovated round chiplets, I requested whether or not being the lead associate with foundry companions and packaging companions (referred to as OSATs) is of main significance, particularly when the lead competitors appear able to throw cash at TSMC to take that quantity. How would AMD be capable to aggressively assert a market-leading place in mild of the complexity of producing and the monetary energy of the competitors?
Dr. Su said that AMD is constant to innovate in all areas. For AMD it appears, main the chiplet expertise has helped to deliver the bundle collectively. She went on to say that AMD has had sturdy supply of 7nm, is introducing 6nm, adopted by Zen 4 and 5nm, speaking about 2D chiplets and 3D chiplets – AMD has all these items within the device chest and are utilizing the best expertise for the best utility. Dr Su bolstered that expertise roadmaps are all about making the best decisions and the best junctures, and explicitly said that our 5nm expertise is extremely optimized for high-performance computing – it’s not essentially the identical as another 5nm applied sciences on the market.
Whereas not explicitly stating that the should be forefront is not crucial, this messaging follows the improved narrative from AMD that within the period of chiplets, it’s how they’re mixed and packaged that’s changing into essential, arguably extra essential than precisely what course of node is getting used. We’ve seen this messaging earlier than from AMD’s foremost competitor Intel, the place again in 2017 the corporate said that it’ll closely depend on optimized chiplets for every use case – this was crystallized additional in 2020 suggesting 24-36 chiplets on a single shopper desktop processor for purpose-built consumer designs. That being stated, it has been always rumored that Intel can be a giant buyer of TSMC 3nm within the following years, so will probably be fascinating to see the place AMD can reap the benefits of a number of years of chiplet experience and packaging instruments by comparability.
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