AMD and NVIDIA will remain at TSMC for its next generation graphics circuits at 28nm. Partners are not thrilled though, as they remain conservative to the new 28nm GPUs due to the new circumstances on the market with lower demands, but also the yields at TSMC are part of the equation.
When TSMC first started producing circuits at 40nm the yields were rather poor, that is the number of working circuits from each wafer was lower than estimated. The problems at 40nm forced AMD and NVIDIA to rank their partners and OEM affiliates as to which would receive the most circuits, and the ones who did not get their desired cut were of course not happy.
The graphics card makers were very enthusiastic before the transition to 40nm, but history does not repeat itself here. The whole ordeal has left a bitter after-taste still residing after two years. There are no reports on the yields at 28nm at TSMC, but industry sources hint it is not where it should be.
NVIDIA is having problems with its new circuits, rumorly, but will still announce the new Kepler architecture by the end of 2011. AMD on the other hand has started production of the HD 7000 series and Southern Islands. Earlier rumors have spoken of a paper launch of Southern Islands, or at least a graphics circuit in December, but it is most likely Southern Islands will show in Q1 2012.
Another concern is a potentially bigger problem at TSMC is that the market has changed much during these two years. More OEMs are holding off buying discrete graphics cards for their computers. AMD and Intel have made such an outstanding job with their integrated graphics circuits that there is no point in putting discrete cards into entry level and mainstream computers.
Integrated graphics circuit makes graphics cards less lucrative for partners.
The demand for performance and enthusiast cards have dropped lately. Most likely this is a combination of more people buying notebooks instead of desktops, and that AMD and NVIDIA have had the same lineup with similar prices for a very long time. In the upper segment we can see how new graphics circuits at 28nm can really help, but these will not come until Q2 2012.
Considering all of the above, AMD and NVIDIA partners are careful about the transition to the next graphics card series. They are right now monitoring the market before making any drastic decisions, which could affect the launch of AMD’s and NVIDIA’s new graphics cards.