A report from Korean news site Chosun Biz is suggesting Nvidia are switching their graphics processing production from Taiwanese semiconductor manufacturer, TSMC, to Korean giant, Samsung.
Production is one thing, but what’s the best graphics card around today?
If the report turns out to be true it could be pretty big news. For one thing the suggestion is that Nvidia are switching from TSMC’s 16nm node to Samsung’s 14nm node, creating a further process shrink for the Pascal GPU architecture. That will mean both AMD and Nvidia running their GPUs on the exact same production process.
But it also suggests Nvidia really does have serious Pascal GPU supply problems with TSMC; which would explain why it’s quite so difficult to get hold of the GP104-based GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 cards. And also why there seems to be so few GTX Titan X cards being made. The massive GP102 GPU inside the latest Titan X is a complicated beast and if TSMC are having issues making enough of them it would also make it almost impossible for Nvidia to release a worthwhile GTX 1080 Ti card using the same chip.
This potential switch in production process may not necessarily make for any tangible change in performance or efficiency – the difference between the two lithographies may be more marketing than technical – but it will still be fascinating to test if there are TSMC and Samsung created versions of the same GPU. Will it be worth holding out for a Samsung-manufactured GTX 1080 rather than spending the money on a TSMC-built version they struggled to produce in large numbers?
The Chosun Biz report also claims the switch is so Nvidia can diversify their product lines. With the recent rumours that Nvidia have won the contract to supply the silicon for the Nintendo NX it now looks like Samsung will be producing the Pascal-based 14nm Tegra SoC for their new console as well as the next line of Nvidia GPUs.
Samsung are currently testing the new Pascal GPU production lines at one of their factories in South Korea, with actual production potentially starting before the end of this year.