Huge Licensing Profits
Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) has decided to produce its graphics processing unit (GPU), which is to be released from next year, in the GlobalFoundries’ (GF) semiconductor foundry using 14nm FinFET process, and Samsung Electronics is expected to make huge licensing profits from it. This is because Samsung actually owns GF’s 14nm FinFET technology.
According to industry sources on Dec. 30, AMD is planning to manufacture its next-generation GPU “Greenland” at GF from the second quarter next year. As AMD’s first GPU to be built on the 14nm FinFET process, Greenland is the current best product from its next-generation GPU family known as the Arctic Islands series. AMD has been developing the GPU considering GF’s 14nm FinFET lower power plus (LPP) process from design.
It is said that AMD has chosen GF over Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), who was in charge of foundry production, to ensure the safety of the 14nm FinFET process. Industry watchers expect that AMD will produce the best GPU in the 14nm process and non-main products in the 16nm process of TSMC. Regarding the foundry contract with TSMC, a senior official of AMD also said, “TSMC is still a crucial partner of AMD.”
Generally, the 14nm FinFET process has 50 to 60 percent higher energy efficiency and 20 to 25 percent higher performance than the 28nm planar process. AMD’s new product is also expected to have the similar level of performance improvements. However, the second-generation high bandwidth memory (HBM) of Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix, which attracted high expectations, will not be used in the next-generation GPU. If the HBM is used, the unit price of the GPU will far exceed the one previously planned, and it is difficult to technologically realize, AMD explained.
Samsung Electronics will earn considerable profits from the foundry contract between AMD and GF. Last year, Samsung Electronics established a strategic partnership with GF to provide the 14nm FinFET process technology in order to secure clients in North America, including Qualcomm and Apple.
Meanwhile, some say that Samsung Electronics can manufacture some AMD products, which are to be produced by GF, at the plant in Austin, depending on GPU productions. If there is a problem with the production yield rate of 14nm chips of GF, Samsung Electronics can produce them. Since its competitor NVIDIA uses TSMC’s 16nm process to produce the Pascal architecture-based next-generation GPU, AMD is expected to stick with the 14nm process of GF and Samsung Electronics in order to put differentiation.