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TSMC and GlobalFoundries gearing up for 20 nanometer

The transition to the new 32 and 28 nanometer technologies is almost complete and the companies are starting to look forward. TSMC is looking to supply higher quantities at 20 nanometer, while GlobalFoundries will be able to offer TSV.

The transition to the new 28 nanometer technologies atTSMC has been relatively smooth, and the yields are on the anticipated level. The cause of concern for TSMC is that it can't produce high enough quantities yet. DigiTimes says that TSMC will only be capable of meeting 70 percent of the market demand on the new node.

The reason for this is a combination of poor planning, but also that demand is at an all-time high for a new node, which we can thank the smartphone boom for. TSMC has increased investments in the construction of new fabs and equipment to be able to meet the demand quicker and achieve higher capacity, but the shortage at 28 nanometer is expected to remain up until Q4.

An additional 700 million dollar has been invested in research and development of new 20 nanometer technologies, and the company will be prepared for a higher demand at 20 nanometer when the technologies are ready. This has made analysts wonder if TSMC is trying to lure Apple over for production of its system processors, but it might just as well just to be certain not to repeat the same mistake twice.

GlobalFoundries has also started preparations for the coming 20 nanometer nodes, and it has put the focus on offering TSV circuits (Through-Silicon Via). This is a technology that uts small holes in stacked circuits and then fills them with copper to enable inter-chip communication. Besides higher bandwidth and lower latencies it will reduce energy consumption.

"To help address forthcoming challenges on new silicon nodes, we are engaging early with partners to jointly develop packaging solutions that will enable the next wave of innovation in the industry. Our approach is broad and collaborative, giving customers maximum choice and flexibility, while delivering cost savings, faster time-to-volume, and a reduction in the technical risk associated with developing new technologies. With the installation of TSV capabilities for 20nm technology in Fab 8, we are adding an important capability that will be supplemented by our joint development and manufacturing partnerships with companies across the semiconductor ecosystem, from design to assembly and test," said Gregg Bartlett, chief technology officer of Globalfoundries.

TSV is already commonly used in memory circuits and to stack RAM on energy efficient system processors for smartphones, but few foundries and companies have the technology at their disposal.

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