NVIDIA and AMD delay next-gen GPU launches
There’s a law in the hardware world that is always in force – there is constantly something better around the corner that shows up just days after you have made your last hardware purchase. This is no fun but there is no other way except to learn to live with it.
Apparently this law will not be in force for gamers and both NVIDIA and AMD – at least for some time in 2015. According to recent online reports both GPU makers have delayed new GPU launches in the foreseeable future due to a rather trivial but important cause – problems with migration to 20 nm and 16 nm production processes.
The reasons behind the problems are numerous – although the 20 nm tech process was reached and then polished by the folks at TSMC this year, all 20 nm production lines are fully occupied with chips ordered by Qualcomm, Apple and the likes so there is no capacity for NVIDIA and AMD graphics processing units to be made. Things are not so simple, though – modern GPUs feature billions and billions of transistors so it becomes even harder to reach acceptable yields on 20 nm and 16 nm production processes. Thus AMD and NVIDIA simply cannot enjoy access to 20 nm production lines.
According to the same reports NVIDIA will likely delay the introduction of the Pascal GPU architecture with another year, which means you should expect Pascal GPUs only in 2016. The good news is that this will allow NVIDIA to make Pascal on 16 nm so apart from extra performance the new chips should also bring much improved power efficiency. Until then all Maxwell GPUs will likely be made on the 28 nm production process.
AMD will try a different strategy – instead of delaying the upcoming Caribbean Islands GPU family to 2016, AMD will wait until Q2 2015 at the earliest and then launch the new GPU line on 20 nm when there is enough 20 nm production capacity. The new manufacturing process will be restricted to high-end GPUs only so the mid-range and budget-oriented Caribbean Islands GPUs will likely use the well-known 28 nm production process again.
The only winner in this situation seems to be TSMC whose production lines are fully loaded as we speak and will likely remain in this state throughout 2015 as well. The GPU industry has been stuck to 28 nm for full three years now which is unprecedented. At the same time the situation once again shows the difficulties chip makers will have in the near future with finer and finer production processes. Intel is having the same problem with its Broadwell generation and the 14 nm production process – the new chip generation has been delayed at least once now.