GlobalFoundries, AMD’s former chip manufacturing arm, is a fab that has seen some hard times. After being spun-off from AMD in 2009, the company has encountered repeated trouble releasing new manufacturing nodes in a timely process, culminating in the company canceling their internally developed 14XM FinFET process. Charting a new course, the in 2014 the company opted to license Samsung’s 14nm FinFET process, and in some much-needed good news for the company, today they and AMD are announcing that they have successfully fabbed AMD’s first 14nm sample chip.

Today’s announcement, which comes by way of AMD, notes that the fab has produced their first 14nm FinFET LPP sample for AMD. The overall nature of the announcement is somewhat vague – GlobalFoundries isn’t really defining what “successful” means – though presumably this means AMD has recieved working samples back from the fab. Overall the message from the two companies is clear that they are making progress on bringing up 14nm manufacturing at GlobalFoundries ahead of mass production in 2016.

Of particular importance in today’s announcement is the node being used; the sample chips were fabbed on 14nm Low Power Plus (LPP), which is Samsung’s (and now GlobalFoundries’) second-generation 14nm FinFET design. Relative to the earlier 14nm Low Power Early (14LPE) design, 14LPP is a refined process designed to offer roughly 10% better performance, and going forward will be the process we expect all newer chips to be produced on. So in the long-run, this will be GlobalFoundries’ principle FinFET process.

Samsung Brochure on 14LPE vs. 14LPP

AMD for their part has already announced that they have taped out several 14LPP designs for GlobalFondries, so a good deal of their future success hinges on their long-time partner bringing 14LPP to market in a timely manner. For today’s announcement AMD is not disclosing what chip was successfully fabbed, so it’s not clear if this was CPU, APU, or GPU, though with GlobalFoundries a CPU/APU is more likely. Though no matter what the chip, this is a welcome development for AMD; as we have seen time and time again with chips from Intel, Samsung, and Apple, a properly implemented FinFET design can significantly cut down on leakage and boost the power/performance curve, which will help AMD become more competitive with their already FinFET-enabled competition.

Finally, looking at the expected timetables, GlobalFoundries’ production plans call for their 14LPP process to enter the early ramp-up phase this quarter, with full-scale production starting in 2016. Similarly, in today’s announcement AMD reiterated that they will be releasing products in 2016 based on GlobalFoundries’ 14LPP process.

Source: AMD

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  • Arnulf - Sunday, November 8, 2015 - link

    "All they need now is to work on yields. Under perfect conditions, Zen can be out in late Q2 next year."

    Not likely to happen. Sure, there will be ES available at that time and few months later we'll have the first slideware and vaporware release. First Zen CPUs (a handful of SKUs) available in stores? Early Q4 at best. Most of the initial lineup available? 2017.
  • Valantar - Sunday, November 8, 2015 - link

    You're saying it will take them 6-8 months to go from sample production to ES? Really? Given that Xen is the only planned 14nm product for AMDs next line-up (Bristol Ridge is still 28nm Excavator, but in a new socket), that seems like a stretch. Sure, it will take longer than the same job on an established and well known/optimized node. But more than half a year for ES? I don't believe that.
  • testbug00 - Sunday, November 8, 2015 - link

    6-8mo? A correct number
    You're missing the other correct number.
  • testbug00 - Sunday, November 8, 2015 - link

    1H isn't realistically possible. Unless it's on pape only.
  • readbeforeyoucomment - Friday, November 6, 2015 - link

    IT IS GOOD NEWS PEOPLE, They are improving!

    He said "finally some good news out of AMD", can you read?
    Are you an idiot? In your opinion they should just quit right? What a moron you are, learn to read.
  • Michael Bay - Friday, November 6, 2015 - link

    It is, if you consider someone coming out of a clinical death into coma an improvement.
    Not to mention your exemplary case of AMD butthurt.
  • Da W - Friday, November 6, 2015 - link

    Bulldozer was a failled design, and they threw it in the trash.
    They were always 2 fab gen behind intel, this is going to change.
    All they need is price competitiveness.
    Pure performace is not that important anymore. I have an haswell cpu and don't plan to change it until a few years. Gonna swap GPU long before i swap CPU.
    So give AMD something descent at 200$ and it can go a long way.
  • pugster - Friday, November 6, 2015 - link

    The problem with Bulldozer is that each core are underpowered compared to Intel I design. They need to redesign less about the APU aspect rather focus on making beefier cores instead of making less powerful quad core in order to compete with Intel.
  • looncraz - Saturday, November 7, 2015 - link

    That's exactly what Zen is. It's a monster 10 pipeline CPU.

    4ALUs, 2 AGUs, and 4FPUs (64-bit mergeable pipes). In theory, this should be able to match up well against Haswell (probably will be a bit below on average).

    It comes down to clock speed in the end.
  • Michael Bay - Saturday, November 7, 2015 - link

    Funny, considering that for the last, what, five years price is the only thing AMD _can_ compete on.
    I`m all for the competition of powerful architectures, not race to the ground pricing wars.

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