AMD, Business, Companies, Intel

UPDATE: AMD’s Fab38 and New York Fab4x are 22nm

Even though the future of manufacturing division isn’t set in stone yet, we can now confirm that AMD is also working hard on 22nm, on track for late 2011/early 2012, roughly half a year later than Intel (according to Fudzilla’s story here).

First engineers that started to work on the 22nm node were deployed all the way back in Q3’2006, when AMD finished its acquisition of ATI Technologies. If you recall, it was at the time when AMD planned to aggressively finish the work on Fab4X in New York and switch GPU manufacturing from TSMC first to Fab38 in Dresden, with 45nm and 32nm SOI, alongside K10.5 (codename Shanghai/Deneb).

A lot of things changed, but still, we managed to learn several interesting bits. Manufacturing-wise, AMD’s Dresden division is consisted out of former 200mm-wafer Fab30 and 300mm-wafer Fab36. AMD sold all of the Fab30 equipment and plans to put the 32nm 300mm-wafer node by the end of this year, and bring Fab38 online next year, with first CPUs manufactured using 32nm process. Fab36 will begin winding down the 45nm production when Fab38 takes over and start introducing 32nm nodes one by one. Fab38 will peak at 22nm manufacturing process, destiny of Fab36 still isn’t decided, but it is expected to continue beyond 2012 and 22nm process.

On the other hand, Fab4x in Luther Park, NY is being built specifically for “22nm and beyond” process using 300mm wafers. Fab4x is planned as the native 22nm Fab and first chips will be manufactured using the 22nm process. It is still undecided will that “honor” go to AMD’s CPU/GPU or perhaps customers product, it is still too early to see.

Rise of Fab38 and Fab4x will mean that manufacturing nightmares could finally end for AMD, because this company was always hurting on two levels – when manufacturing was up, AMD didn’t had the architecture to pull it off, and when AMD had the architecture to win the market, the company didn’t had the manufacturing capabilities. With CPU, GPU and chipset being manufactured under the same roof, and yet offering technologies such as SOI, High-K, Low-Power in 45nm, 32nm and 22nm to various customers, seeing 3rd party vendors manufacturing their processors at The Foundry Company or should we write “MAD AMD” (Mubadala Abu Dhabi hearts Advanced Micro Devices or simply, Arab Micro Devices).

For anyone interested in why ATIC and Mubadala Abu Dhabi invested in AMD and that “that investment was a dead end”, might want to think twice. AMD has world-leading facilities in Dresden (claim proved with numerous industry awards) and space to build three more clean rooms (“Fabs”) in Dresden. At the same time, future Luther Park facility is capable of expanding from one clean room (Fab4x) to three (probably Fab 5x, 5x and 6x… sometime in the next 20 years).

My only worry is the fact that the CEO of TFC/Arab Micro Devices is no other than Hector Jesus Ruiz, former CEO of AMD. After witnessing disasteros decisions in Motorola’s semiconductor division (which became known as Freescale Semiconductor) and well, you decide how to call AMD’s era between 2005 and 2008, can Hector actually “see the light” and create a manufacturing giant? His credibility in the industry is very low, and the only CEO with less credibility in semico industry was Alex Leupp, former CEO of Siemens AG and 3Dfx Inc. Yep, the same guy that chopped off Siemens to bits, turned 3Dfx into 3dfx, killed partner relationships and drove 3dfx into the ground. This is less than flattering company for future boss of TFC. Time will tell if he’ll finally deliver, or ruin another company.

Future capacity estimates are a bit murky. By the end of 2012, MAD AMD (TFC) should have the capability to manufacture between 55-75,000 wafer starts a month. AMD’s internal documents went between 650,000 and 900,000 wafer starts a year after the complete ramp-up in New York. Currently, papers are stating that out of theoretical 75,000 wspm, around 50% should be in 22nm, 35% in 32nm and 15% in 45nm. Is this 2012 or 2013, time will tell. This manufacturing capacity should be able to turn the tide not just for AMD, but for other manufacturers as well. I have seen plans about potential customers, and without going into further details, we can say that at least one next-gen console will have its CPU and GPU manufactured by The Foundry Company. Can you guess which one?

UPDATE Feb 4, 00:47AM CET – Edited references to capacity in respect to documents from AMD’s manufacturing slides for Financial Analyst and Technology Days 2007 and 2008.