Report: TSMC to make Intel’s ‘next’ discrete graphics chip

Report: TSMC to make Intel’s ‘next’ discrete graphics chip

Business news |
By Peter Clarke

The chip, codenamed DG2, is likely a derivative of Intel’s Ponte Vecchio discrete GPU. Ponte Vecchio was originally slated to appear on Intel’s 7nm process in 2021, but in July 2020, Intel CEO Bob Swan said it would be made using external and internal manufacturing process technologies and advanced packaging as a chiplet-based component. He also said it would appear late in 2021 or early 2022 (see Intel goes foundry for 7nm due to yield issues).

Reuters has now referenced two unnamed sources saying the DG2 chip is expected to be released later in 2021 or early in 2022 to compete with gaming chips from Nvidia and AMD that cost $400 to $600. This is the same timetable as Ponte Vecchio suggesting the product has bifurcated into DG1 aimed at data center applications and DG2 aimed at graphics cards and PCs for gaming applications.

DG2 will be made for Intel by TSMC using a manufacturing process that has not yet been named but would be an enhanced version of its 7nm process, the report said.

Intel was once the world’s most advanced chip manufacturing but problems bringing up its 10nm and 7nm FinFET manufacturing processes in recent years have seen it fall behind foundries such as TSMC and Samsung. In July 2020 Swan said: “We have identified a defect mode in our 7-nanometer process that resulted in yield degradation. We’ve root-caused the issue and believe there are no fundamental roadblocks, but we have also invested in contingency plans to hedge against further schedule uncertainty.”

The use of the word contingency was another way of saying Intel would use foundry manufacturing – and the reduced margin on chip sales that implies – to try and keep its products more-or-less on time and competitive.

The enhanced 7nm manufacturing process could provide Intel with an advantage over Nvidia, which has used a nominal 8nm manufacturing process at Samsung to make its most recent graphics chips and AMD, which is having GPUs made on the TSMC 7nm manufacturing process. 

However, it is also known that TSMC is running at manufacturing capacity with its leading-edge processes and my not be able to supply all the demand it is receiving. This effectively puts TSMC in the role of ‘kingmaker’ as it can decide how many wafers each of its clients shall receive and at what price. As a result, Intel, which is already a user of TSMC services for many chips, may also be trying to obtain foundry manufacturing capacity from Samsung (see Samsung included in Intel outsourcing talks) in an attempt to keep some competitive leverage.

Related links and articles:

Intel goes foundry for 7nm due to yield issues

Samsung included in Intel outsourcing talks

Foundries booming near-term but Samsung faces risks

Seven customers get TSMC’s 5nm production

If you enjoyed this article, you will like the following ones: don't miss them by subscribing to :    eeNews on Google News


Linked Articles