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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  • Alexey291 - Sunday, November 8, 2015 - link

    Actually he sounds calm and collected. And most importantly reasonable. You sound angry and upset.

    Are you sure you didn't mean to log into verge or engadget instead?
  • Michael Bay - Monday, November 9, 2015 - link

    Don`t insult Engadget. After vergins went away, it became decent again.
  • Penti - Sunday, November 8, 2015 - link

    GloFo, IBM (now absorbed into GloFo) and Samsung were already collaborating on processes and their 32/28 nm process where a Common Platform process (the name of the consortium) that was used across the three companies with the same tools/libraries used to design for all three. They shared technologies between each other, developed it collaboratively and bought the same tools and machines. The collaboration goes back decades, as it's expensive to develop and build all tools for just one or two fabs without sharing some with others. GloFo just wasn't going to develop any competing process to the common one. Their 22 nm process in East Fishkill is a proprietary process for example. Considering they had a common platform for 32/28 nm with IBM and Samsung as well as STMicroelectronics that they all contributed too, it's nothing new.

    Things like 28 nm FD-SOI was a failure too but that doesn't mean they have got a free ride on someone else's tech. GloFo collaborated with STMicro on 28 nm FD-SOI but designs like ST-E's mobile AP's/ModAP's never made it to commercial production and there just weren't any demand for it. AMD opted for 32 nm SOI and 28 nm SHP at GF rather than 32 nm FD-SOI (their other proprietary process) or 28 nm HPP, at the time GloFo also was also manufacturing using the 32/28 nm Common Platform process and now they choose not to use 14XM and thus didn't force GloFo to develop and manufacture using two slightly different processes. Dual-sourcing 32/28 nm has mostly been working out for all of the companies collaborating though. It makes the choice at the fabless companies easier, they could choose to design for common platform or TSMC basically. The shared 14LPE/LPP-process is already used at three different fabs and will probably expand to one or two more. Canceling 14XM doesn't mean they had to run out and license 14LPP for lots of money as they have contributed to the research and development, though it means the process Samsung was further along on became the process which allows multi-sourcing and the one that is implemented across different companies. The alternative would have been to finish 14XM as a proprietary tech and use 14LPE/LPP as the common process, but that would have meant were little demand for 14XM and at that time there wasn't really any design for 14XM any how, and obviously nobody working with them on a proprietary process for 14 nm.
  • r3loaded - Saturday, November 7, 2015 - link

    Any word on whether AMD will be moving their Radeon GPUs over to GloFo? It will be a boon for them if they won't have to share foundry time with the likes of Apple and Nvidia.
  • koko4kaka - Saturday, November 14, 2015 - link

    I doubt it. GloFo has been an albatross around AMD's neck for the past few years. If anything AMD would prefer to move their CPUs over to TSMC.
  • Nathan_Foster - Sunday, November 8, 2015 - link

    I'm glad to see some good news from AMD for a change. I really hope they can turn their situation around.........they've been making me rather nervous lately.
  • testbug00 - Sunday, November 8, 2015 - link

    Zen launch non- paper in 2016.
    Zen launch in paper 2016.

    Both true statements I feel. Is Zen always Zen!
  • Glideslope - Monday, November 9, 2015 - link

    Well done GloFo. Can only improve from here on out.

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