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28nm Process a Resounding Success: Can TSMC reach 200 28nm Chip Designs?


Even though there are doubts that some financial analysts casted over TSMC, foundry's clients and TSMC themselves came out and said nothing is wrong with the 28nm process.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., Ltd. or TSMC for short is without any doubt, world's largest foundry. The company churns out billions of chips per year and easily beats even Intel in number of chips manufactured. Revenue side of business is another thing, though.

TSMC gained a lot of attention since companies like AMD, NVIDIA, Qualcomm and others use them to manufacture products on the bleeding edge of technology and the recent past made several "claim to fame", beating the industry benchmark (Intel) by a process node. For example, TSMC's 80nm process shipped dozens of millions chips while Intel was manufacturing 90nm IC's (Integrated Circuit) and 55nm continued the same trend.

However, the company hit a wall with the yields of 40nm silicon, which was supposed to overtake Intel's 45nm process. However, the company did manage to launch a large number of 28nm chips for its clients Advanced Micro Devices and Qualcomm, targeting high end segment with the Tahiti GPU (Radeon HD 7950, HD 7970) and dual-core Snapdragon processors.

Once again, the company beat Intel's 22nm node by a quarter, and TSMC wants to introduce 20nm process before Intel is able to come out with 14nm process node, where TMSC will equal with Intel and GlobalFoundries. The story will sound the same for the 10nm process. Also, TSMC is going forward with Gate Last HKMG concept, pioneered by Intel and will be joined by GlobalFoundries at 20nm node and below.

According to TSMC representatives, the company has no less than 36 IC designs in mass production right now, and additional 132 designs in the tapeout stage.
Maria Merced, President of TSMC Europe stated that the company "have learned the lessons on 40nm. We have put engineering teams on every tape-out to drive down defect density and drive up yields," she said. "It will be more difficult at 20nm again, but still we see very good momentum."

The customers interest for the 28nm node grew three times as much as it did for the 40nm node, which was headed by AMD, NVIDIA and Qualcomm. It isn't entirely unbelievable that TMSC will break 200 designs on a single process node while the process is at its peak. All of this demand is being driven by the exploding smartphone and tablet market, as well as continuous growth in the PC and Consumer Electronics space, which all requires more and more power efficient semiconductors.

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