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AMD and Intel do battle over TSMC capacity, says report

by Mark Tyson on 27 July 2020, 11:21


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A new report from Taiwan suggests that AMD and Intel are battling for production capacity at TSMC. This news might be behind the ceasing of trading of TSMC shares on Taiwan's stock market earlier today, due to caps on daily price movements. The company is up 10 per cent in the most recent trading session which flat-lined about mid-day Taiwan time, after intervention.

CNBC notes that the TSMC rally is due in part to Intel's financial statements last week, where it said it would be delaying its 7nm chips. Furthermore, Intel indicated it might hire other foundries to make advanced 7nm processors. However, the potentially bigger news, for TSMC at least, comes today via Taiwan's China News which asserts that Intel is indeed in talks with TSMC and is anxious to grab production capacity.

Insiders talking to the Taiwanese newspaper have indicated the following:

  • Intel has reached an agreement with TSMC
  • TSMC will begin mass production of Intel CPUs and/or GPUs next year
  • Intel chips will be fabricated on TSMC's 7nm optimised version of its 6nm process. (I'm not sure if that means TSMC N7P, N7+, or N6.)

Intel can be thankful for the TSMC capacity made available by the Huawei / HiSilicon orders being cancelled or it would be in an even worse position.

Meanwhile, AMD will press ahead to try and take advantage of its chief opponent's misfortunes / missteps. AMD hopes to capture market share in desktops, laptops, and servers and its Zen 3 CPUs and RDNA 2 GPUs will be instrumental in this aim going into the new year. AMD's next gen parts will be made on TSMC's N7/N7+ processes, and it is expected to be TSMC's biggest 7nm customer in 2021. This is all the more impressive because TSMC's 7nm capacity for 2021 will be double what it was this year.

You can read the Chinese language China Times article in English using Google Translate, or check out Twitter's Retired Engineer version here. Please note a couple of things: AMD is sometimes mistranslated as Supermicro, as it uses the same Chinese characters for some reason; and it is recommended you take the industry sourced news with a pinch of salt.

Intel does the GPU hokey cokey

The official Intel Graphics Twitter account teased followers with more Xe graphics news and then apparently changed its mind. The Tweet below was shared on Saturday.

VideoCardz has thankfully captured the Tweet for posterity. You can see, above, it said that we would learn more about Xe GPUs in 20 days time, which would have been 14th August. We can only guess about the reason for the Tweet removal, perhaps it is something as simple as it indicating the wrong date. The next officially scheduled Intel launch will be that of Tiger Lake mobile processors on 2nd September.

HEXUS Forums :: 29 Comments

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I wonder how much Intel barrel barged in and whether it has impacted AMDs access or did TSMC put a red line around existing capacity.
Historically, TSMC have seemingly refused to allow any one company to unfairly push out competitors, even when Apple tried and failed to gain exclusive access to cutting-edge nodes. In this case, 7nm's increasing capacity along with Huawei's exit probably lines up well with increasing demand from other companies.

Don't forget Intel is TSMC's competitor and I doubt it's in TSMC's long-term interest to displace any of their long-term customers like AMD, Nvidia, Apple, Qualcomm, etc in order to benefit a customer who will be looking to abandon them as soon as their own fabs are competitive again.
Intel's NNP-T was being built at TSMC, but was cancelled when Intel decided to go with Habana NNP designs back in Feb.

Intel has several chip presentations at Hotchips 2020, in mid August … Ice Lake Server, Tiger Lake, Xe GPU, Tofino 2, Agilex FPGA and a keynote by Raja Koduri.
My understanding is that transferring from one node to another isn't straightforward, so if this is happening there's more chance of there being a particular range or segment that's TSMC outsourced, rather than just a simple % of production.

Also: Zen 4 still on 7nm+?
Honestly, if I was TSMC, I'd be considering the following:
1) AMD is fabless and therefore relies on TSMC, et al to be competitive
2) AMD remaining competitive ensures repeat and increasing business
3) Intel will sod off as soon as they have their own fabs online
4) I'm not building more fab capacity for Intel because they may leave as soon as their fabs work
5) It may be in my long term best interests to stifle Intel right now and give AMD a competitive advantage as we have a symbiotic relationship as per 1 and 2.
6) Intel is known as a business which throws its weight around willy nilly - do I want to be involved with someone who might stab me in the back?
7) I'm already in a position where I can negotiate hard on prices and Intel has got to be desperate.
8) Accepting loadsa cash now from Intel may send otherwise long term customers elsewhere and when Intel leave, I'll be left with money but a poorer long term outlook.
9) Maybe I bleed Intel dry and then use the money to subsidise AMD for giggles.