Is TSMC having trouble with 28nm?

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) is reportedly experiencing difficulties with its 28nm manufacturing process technologies.

According to analyst Mike Bryant of Future Horizons, 28nm designs aren’t yielding well. In addition, there are apparently multiple companies waiting for designs to be produced by TSMC on 28nm processes.

“We’re now hearing none of them work; no yield anyway. Ten designs going through; we have heard about problems on six of them,” Bryant told EETimes.

“Foundries have come under pressure to release cell libraries too early – which end up with designs that don’t work… At 45nm, only Nvidia was affected. At 28nm any problems for TSMC will be problems for many customers.”

But TSMC CEO Morris Chang insists the company’s 28nm manufacturing process technologies remain on track. 

“Our 28nm entered volume production last year and contributed 2 percent of 4Q11’s wafer revenue. Defect density and new progress is ahead of schedule and is better than 40-45nm at the corresponding stage of the ramp-up,” claimed Chang. 

“We expect 28nm ramp this year to be fast and we expect 28-nm will contribute more than 10 percent of total wafer revenue this year.”

Meanwhile, TechEye reports that the situation for TSMC rival GlobalFoundries continues to “look grim” with rumors of discontent among disparate staff and poor leadership affecting chip production.

According to TechEye’s Matthew Finnegan, GloFo has been having big trouble at 32nm and 28nm production – with both using problematic gate first processing. 

This is apparently further compounded by a split in production between two processes: AMD and IBM. 

“Trying to debug two processes is causing serious headaches, and a lack of cooperation between Dresden and the US bases is throwing the company even deeper into the mire,” Finnegan explains. 

“It looks like it could be a few years before AMD’s production arm spinoff is truly counted among the major players in the industry. A sore lack of cohesion is being blamed on a lack of quality leadership which could get the firm powering forward.”