It looks like Global Foundries and Samsung are syncing their processes just like SemiAccurate exclusively said last year. As of today the story was officially confirmed, or at least parts of it were.
The short version is that Samsung’s 14nm process that SemiAccurate wrote up in detail last year is now coming to Global Foundries. This brings Samsung’s two fabs in Hwaseong and Austin onto the same level as Global Foundries in Saratoga. In short Global Foundries and Samsung are now interchangeable at 14nm, a true second source scenario.
Neither party will confirm the main customer that lead to this sync but if you are curious you can find a big hint here. That said there are others demanding a second source when working with Samsung, something the now dead and buried Common Platform was supposed to provide. It looks like now the two survivors of that group will actually carry the vision to fruition albeit because of a gun to their heads.
This merger ends up with a single process from two companies at three facilities. It has a claimed “up to” 20% higher speed, 30% less power used, and 15% less area than the 20nm planar process that it replaces the transistors for. Please do note that this is marketing speak for pick one of the three and maybe not even that even though the word and is used. Since the BEOL is nearly identical the between the 20nm and 14nm processes the port should be a pretty easy one for anyone already familiar with the 20nm rules.
Although there is only one process at 20nm, a low power variant, sources say there should be two versions at 14nm. Both are based off the base 14nm low power process but one is tweaked for higher performance. This is not the same as a true HP processes like in the old days, it is just a higher performance low power node. The days of distinct fire-breathing speed demon versions are now officially over.
In the end Common Platform is dead, long live the Global Foundries and Samsung collaboration at 14nm. Customers demanded a second source and now they have it, and the attendant volume and flexibility it brings. Can’t say we didn’t tell you almost a year ago, we exclusively did and a lot more that hasn’t come out yet too.S|A
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