40-nm yield issues are back at TSMC

Well, this won’t help get more of those Radeon HD 5800-series cards in stores. DigiTimes writes that TSMC, the Taiwanese foundry that produces the bulk of graphics chips for both AMD and Nvidia, has run into 40-nm yield problems once again. Reportedly, TSMC itself has admitted that production yields at the 40-nm node have dropped to just 40% because of "chamber matching issues." TSMC CEO Morris Chang however claims his company will overcome the problems before the end of this quarter.

If that all sounds familiar, it’s because TSMC also faced hurdles with its 40-nm process earlier this year—analysts then talked of yields as low as 20-30%. According to DigiTimes, Chang affirmed during an investor conference in July that yields had picked up to 60%. Sounds like that didn’t last.

As our continued availability checks show, AMD’s 40-nm Radeon HD 5850 has remained largely absent from e-tail stocks. However, a quick look at Newegg shows a great number of Radeon HD 5750 and 5770 cards in stock and available. 5700-series cards also use a 40-nm GPU (Juniper), but it’s smaller than the Cypress chip in 5800-series products.

Comments closed
    • xzelence
    • 13 years ago

    Man oh man. Those were the days. When ATI kicked butt.

    • Hattig
    • 13 years ago

    Yields at 60% for ATI parts, and 40% for NVIDIA parts?

    40nm is just painful. 28nm will be even more so.

    • radializer
    • 13 years ago

    on a very basic level –>

    Many processes in fabs/foundries are parallel and run on batches of tools to get the desired high wafer throughput … and these tools have chambers for the processes to occur within (could be deposition, furnace, etc – any number of possibilities).

    If multiple tools have chambers that are not matched to each other, this increases the variability seen in the end product and may drop overall yield … as only a portion of the output that is deemed “good” can be sold.

    • moritzgedig
    • 13 years ago

    and what is it that they should produce in the meantime?
    test-wafers that cost money but don’t sell?

    • clone
    • 13 years ago

    did TSMC make a number of promises regarding 40nm tech that pushed ATI and Nvidia in this direction straight away?

    45nm tech is fully mature and I can’t help but wonder if all of these issues could have been bypassed initially and then while doing a refresh later take advantage of 40nm tech once it becomes mature.

    • moritzgedig
    • 13 years ago

    is this maybe a hind of how it is going to be from now on?
    maybe <45nm yield will never be high again because there is to much magic involved?

    • The Dark One
    • 13 years ago

    The issue is getting a bulk silicon process, though. It’s not what AMD needed for its CPUs, but it’s what its potential customers will want.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 13 years ago

    Not the 9800 Pro.

    • pengwinn
    • 13 years ago

    Could be an etch chamber…could be a CVD chamber…chamber is a really generic term that could refer to the process chamber of virtually any process step.

    From the press release linked below, could be that they brought a new vendor in, or a new model of a tool, and are having trouble getting its performance to match the existing development toolset.

    • SPOOFE
    • 13 years ago

    /[

    • NeelyCam
    • 13 years ago

    Hmm this is scary. I was gonna get a 5850, but now I’m on the fence

    • NeelyCam
    • 13 years ago

    Yes, but TSMC has been doing this for ages as well, and they are in trouble with 40nm… it’s just not that easy anymore.

    • jackaroon
    • 13 years ago

    It means Nvidia has shipped a lot of cards over the years, and has been the market leader for quite some time. More cards means more dead cards. I’ve had two nvidia cards die over a long period of time, and two DOA ATI cards ordered through newegg and returned, and currently have a working ATI-based card (also from newegg). I have no indication whatsoever that the failing component on any of them was the main GPU chip.

    • Sahrin
    • 13 years ago

    GlobalFoundries has been doing it for 30 years. As AMD’s manufacturing arm. They have some experience.

    • NeelyCam
    • 13 years ago

    l[

    • NeelyCam
    • 13 years ago

    FYI: those were all Nvidia cards… Gee, I wonder what that means.

    • NeelyCam
    • 13 years ago

    Ever heard of amortization..? Intel will be making money as soon as the chips hit the market.

    And they will charge what they can – that’s the real reason why the prices are high. If AMD was able to compete somehow, sure the prices would be lower. But that’s not the case, so Intel is making dough like cookiemonster

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 13 years ago

    Intel isn’t making a dime from 32nm yet, and won’t be for a while. They probably have to recoup something like $20 billion in R&D and factory upgrade costs…hence the seemingly high prices of the absolutely tiny Westmere chips.

    • flip-mode
    • 13 years ago

    Not really. These things happen. The video card is the part that has failed on me most: one 9800 pro, one 6800 128, and one 7600 GT have failed on me.

    • NeelyCam
    • 13 years ago

    Chamber=deposit chamber. Why matched… double patterning?

    This sort of stuff will NOT be explained to the public. TSMC secrets, don’t ask.

    • NeelyCam
    • 13 years ago

    Meanwhile, Intel is making some big bucks with high-yield 32nm.
    What’s wrong with TSMC?

    • HighTech4US
    • 13 years ago

    More details are here:

    §[<http://www.xbitlabs.com/news/other/display/20091029225102_TSMC_Warns_About_Further_Problems_with_40nm_Process_Technology.html<]§ TSMC: Lots of new tools were brought in and they added a complexity to production. The problems that I have just mentioned that have cropped up recently had to do with two chamber matching. We consider these to be logistical problems and we are in the process of resolving them very quickly.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 13 years ago

    rofl’s, very nice.

    • danny e.
    • 13 years ago

    You didn’t read correctly. My 9600GT did not fail in 2 days. The two days is the period of time between when it did fail to when I ordered and recieved a HD 5850 thanks to next day delivery.

    • Kurotetsu
    • 13 years ago

    Thankfully, progress isn’t dictated solely by need. Which is fortunate for everyone (well, except you I guess).

    • tocatl
    • 13 years ago

    ???, you had really bad luck with your 9600gt

    • UberGerbil
    • 13 years ago

    ^^ This is by far the best answer. I’d go with that.

    (They could be referring to the chambers used for vapor deposition, but it’s hard to say
    §[<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemical_vapor_deposition<]§ The use of the term "matching" kind of suggests something to do with getting double-patterning working, but I don't know if TSMC is even using that yet. As with production snafus in any large company, they don't want to talk about it much and they're not going to be very forthcoming about what the actual problem is.)

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 13 years ago

    I’m with you. I think it’s ridiculous that people claim newer and more expensive cards are always “needed,” simply because they blindly max out all the settings.

    High AA levels kill you quick, but I don’t see the difference, either.

    The only thing that’s really excited me about video cards in years is when something comes along that makes low end hardware more effective, like GDDR5, so that the chips can basically be sawed in half and still work great, and sideport memory on IGPs.

    And I’m still not running a card that’s anywhere close to that recent, but it has me interested in the prospect of using GDDR5 sideport memory, or at the very least, laptops with good graphics cards that hardly use any power.

    • Buzzard44
    • 13 years ago

    It’s easy. When chambers don’t match, it’s hard for the player to make their way through the level. At the 40nm level, it’s especially hard, because the player can barely make it through a 40nm wide passage as it is, especially when the map is whack.

    Rofl, u r a noob.

    • ew
    • 13 years ago

    That’s a good question. Quick Google search didn’t clear it up. Anyone have a tech enthusiasts level explanation?

    • GodsMadClown
    • 13 years ago

    Does anyone know what a chamber is, and why it needs to be matched?

    • marvelous
    • 13 years ago

    Like what games I might ask?

    I have a GTX 260 and there’s no game I can’t play @ 1920×1080 4xAA or higher other than Crysis that finished more than a year ago. Latest PC game being console ports why do we need a card like 5870 other than pump SSAA or eyefinity?

    So everyone here has 30″ monitors? I’m sure these guys already picked up 5870 at launch!

    • Goty
    • 13 years ago

    Wasn’t that independently confirmed a few weeks ago?

    • TO11MTM
    • 13 years ago

    Technology doesn’t go up in price over time. But you are someone who takes everything out of context anyway so what’s the point in me trying to reason with you?

    • swaaye
    • 13 years ago

    I think 4X AA gets the job done. When I go higher I can’t really see the difference anymore. Actually I use 16X CSAA almost exclusively, which is 4X MSAA plus that coverage sample stuff.

    I’ve switched my PC gaming rig to a big TV (50″ 1366×768) and have an old 8800GTX on that (my fastest card). The only game that I can’t run 16X CSAA and have a buttery framerate is Crysis. Putting a 58×0 in there would be a waste as I’d be CPU limited in everything even with the PIIX4 940.

    Before that I was gaming on a 1920×1200 24″ and yeah then you’ve got yourself stuck in a never ending upgrade situation to be able to run games at that res.

    • lolento
    • 13 years ago

    Yes, I know this first hand.

    I know Nvidia subcons are making them sign a release of liability due to the low yield of the 40nm process. I can’t confirm about ATi but I figured the same.

    • Sargent Duck
    • 13 years ago

    True, consoles do run great at console resolutions, but they look pretty bad without the extra filtering that you can do on a PC. 16AA anyone? Of course, for the price you pay for a new 5870 you can pretty much buy a new xbox360, so that might effectively moot my argument.

    • Game_boy
    • 13 years ago

    Do you know this first-hand? Because I haven’t seen any news story to that effect.

    • TurtlePerson2
    • 13 years ago

    Depends on your resolution. Console ports run great at console resolutions at console frame rates (30 FPS), but there are some games out there that really do need a 5870 to get the best experience.

    • marvelous
    • 13 years ago

    who cares. It’s not like console ports are demanding enough for the need of 5850/5870 or the new fermi.

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 13 years ago

    Eh…AMD and Nvidia have BOTH been actively selling every 40nm GPU they can for almost half a year now, and as time goes on, both have been switching over to them more and more. There hasn’t been any “reliability issue,” just supply issues, hence their entire lines not being replaced yet.

    • lolento
    • 13 years ago

    You don’t want jump on this. Trust me.

    There are latent reliability issues with the 40nm process from TSMC.

    The reason that Nvidia can’t release their 40nm chips as of right now is because their subcon would not let them do so. When companies that know what they are doing is playing politics like this, you know you have a huge issue.

    Apparently, Nvidia has to sign release to relief all warranty related liability from the subcon before the shipment can start.

    So, if you still want to jump on this, please go right ahead.

    • KyleSTL
    • 13 years ago

    So everything should be upgraded slowly and incrementally like Macs? No thanks.

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 13 years ago

    Well excuse me, Miss Clarissa Explains it All!

    EDIT: Lol oops, for some reason, your post shifted to the right under mine, as if it was a reply. A wise man once said, “If you do not understand,,,hey I do not understand.”

    • TheEmrys
    • 13 years ago

    An economics class would really help your perspective.

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 13 years ago

    r[

    • BoBzeBuilder
    • 13 years ago
    • OneArmedScissor
    • 13 years ago

    The chip was ready. People have been using them for a month now, and they work fine. Just because there aren’t enough permanently lying around on store shelves for everyone and their dog to buy one doesn’t mean someone made a bad business decision.

    Letting money fly out the window would certainly be a bad business decision, though.

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 13 years ago

    Even if they stock piled them, they’d probably still run out.

    People complaining that they should have waited until they’re “ready” need to STFU N0OB. That’d just be lost business.

    The analogy I always make is the Nintendo Wii. I still haven’t seen them just readily sitting on store shelves, years later. Imagine if Nintendo had waited to avoid that situation…boy, that makes sense.

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 13 years ago

    It doesn’t really need to be up and running just yet for it to work out to GlobalFoundry’s advantage. Everyone is stuck riding out the storm with TSMC, regardless, as they can’t just switch over the chips that were already designed for them. It’s quite possible that actually makes it better for GlobalFoundry, as some companies are going to be pretty pissed and/or lacking confidence by the end of the 40nm ordeal, which they will still be putting up with for a while yet.

    GlobalFoundry just needs to be ready by the next generation, which it may be.

    • indeego
    • 13 years ago

    Yep this card will keep going up in price forever. Holy grailg{<.<}g

    • NeelyCam
    • 13 years ago

    Bulls***. AMD did the exact right thing by pushing these cards out, regardless of how large the stockpile was. First to market is gold. Just see what happened: every 58xx card sold out, with insane hype and demand, and next batch will sell at a premium. Much needed cash rolling in.

    What should have they done…? Wait until they have enough in stock not to run out? Risk NVidia launching GT300 before them? Miss out on selling top cards at a premium? Have customers bitch and moan about delays and “I want my card now, where is it? what’s wrong with ATI?”

    NVidia is still nowhere to be found. December by butt. AMD/ATI did the right thing: sell the good stuff asap.

    Of course, Intel is doing the stockpile thing with Westmere chips to get a stronger launch, but of course they can afford to: they don’t have to sell the current stock at a stupid cheap prices, since Core2Duo is still very competitive. The earlier Clarkdale comes out, the less profit from Core2Duo.

    • danny e.
    • 13 years ago

    the availability may be somewhat limited but I managed to order and recieve a HD 5850 within 2 days after my 9600GT failed.

    You just have to want it / click fast. 🙂

    • Hyperneko
    • 13 years ago

    Too bad Global Foundries isn’t up and running yet, this would be a wonder time for them to swoop in and snatch up business from TSMC.

    Then again, we’d probably have all the 58XX series we wanted if they had Global Foundries up. At least ATi would hope on is this demand that will ensure their cards will sell well this season. If anything it raises the prices of this card for them, which will help their coffers a bit.

    As far as Nvidia goes, even if Fermi is the better platform, it won’t mean much if they can’t get chips for it. Way to go TSMC

    • Waco
    • 13 years ago

    Isn’t progress wonderful? 🙂

    • BoBzeBuilder
    • 13 years ago

    This is why you should jump on graphic cards upon their release. You may not be able to get’em later, and prices will go up.

    • jdaven
    • 13 years ago

    I’ve also noticed that all GTX 285’s and all but 2 GTX 275’s are out of stock at Newegg. Looks like there might be some truth to Nvidia canceling production of highend cards too.

    • anotherengineer
    • 13 years ago

    LOL way to rub it in …my 2 5850’s +1

    as they say first come first serve

    • Sargent Duck
    • 13 years ago

    Well, to AMD’s credit, this isn’t their problem. It’s TSMC’s. I’m pretty sure that there was an agreement in place to cover such things (that is, AMD produces the chip, TSMC says they can make the chip at 60% yeild, AMD says we’re going to release the chip). The benefits of outsourcing, you can, legitimally, blame others.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 13 years ago

    Don’t fool yourself, if NV could have launched their 40nm DX11 parts before Win 7 and for the holiday season they would have.

    • leor
    • 13 years ago

    i’d rather have limited stock available than waiting for the company to stockpile loads of cards and have them launch a month or 2 later.

    but maybe me and my 2x 5850s are biased?

    • seawolf1118
    • 13 years ago

    this is been happening for years now. in a perfect world you are absolutely right but we don’t live in a perfect world. sadly i have noticed that this, releasing product prematurely and/or w/ defects, is happening in consumer electronics such as DVD players and TVs and AV receivers too.

    • ClickClick5
    • 13 years ago

    Maybe this can be a lesson on how to /[

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