As Intel slowly ramps production of 45nm processors and AMD prepares for its own 45nm ramp in the second half of the year, TSMC is already readying its 40nm process technology. DigiTimes reports that the independent Taiwanese foundry plans to unveil the new process some time in the second quarter of this year.
TSMC's 40nm process tech will reportedly be available in both general-purpose, performance-oriented (40G) and efficient, low-power (40LP) flavors. DigiTimes elaborates that the 40LP process is targeted at applications like handheld and wireless devices, whereas the 40G variant will be used for "CPU, GPU, games console, networking and programmable gate array (FPGA) designs and other high-performance consumer devices." From a power consumption standpoint, DigiTimes quotes TSMC as saying the drop from 45nm to 40nm "reduces power scaling up to 15%."
Even with the 40nm node ready in Q2, though, it may take a while before Nvidia and AMD introduce graphics processors based on the new process. Right now, AMD's Radeon HD 3000-series GPUs are based on TSMC's 55nm process, while Nvidia's GeForce 9600 GT and recent GeForce 8800-series offerings like the 8800 GT are based on an older 65nm process. Nvidia is rumored to be planning a 55nm shrink of the 8800 GT's G92 chip, though. TSMC's 55nm process has been ready since late March 2007.