20nm and 16nm GPUs by AMD and Nvidia respectively have reportedly been delayed. Not due to any technical reason other than the limited capacity and yield of both nodes. I’ve actually waited on this information for a few days to affirm its legitimacy. My sources have confirmed (again) that AMD’s upcoming graphics architecture is indeed 20nm based and that’s precisely the reason why it’s been slightly delayed.
Although I can’t link to the source as it’s not public, suffice to say this is the same source that was the first to tell us about Nvidia deciding to make GM204 ( GTX 980 and 970 ) using the 28nm instead of 20nm. This is also the same source that told us that Nvidia had skipped 20nm and went straight to 16nm designs.
No 16nm GPUs From Nvidia or AMD Next Year – 20nm GPUs Also Slightly Delayed
The reason for this delay is due to mobile chip makers, namely Apple and Qualcomm, gobbling up the limited early 20nm capacity. It’s not good news for 16nm either as the limited capacity of that node, especially in its early months of life, has also reportedly been drained almost dry by the same mobile giants. The fact that TSMC can’t seem to improve yields at an adequate pace doesn’t help either.
Just like Qualcomm and Apple we may see Nvidia introduce 16nm Tegra mobile SOCs in late 2015. This development is interesting in the sense that it may drive Nvidia to cancel the 16nm Maxwell shrinks and go straight to Pascal instead for 2016. Either way, unsurprisingly there won’t be any 16nm GPUs until 2016. Even early 2016 is unlikely at this point based on TSMC’s own 16nm projections. However we don’t expect Nvidia to remain idle. The company still has one last ace to play in 2015 and that’s GM200.
If you remember back in September we had reported that the first of AMD’s 20nm R9 300 series graphics cards would arrive between mid February and early March of 2015. The delay has shifted the schedule by about two months. So the same 20nm chips would now arrive sometime between April and May of next year.
This however does not mean that AMD would not introduce any new products before April next year. As we’ve reported earlier, we’re likely to see both 20nm and 28nm graphics products from AMD in 2015. The latter will serve the market before the introduction of 20nm silicon. We should see the enhanced Hawaii version introduced along with a fully unlocked Tonga GPU before the flagship based on Fiji XT takes the stage.
The upcoming graphics architecture is code named Caribbean Islands. The amusing coincidence happens to be that the Caribbeans have infamously been known to be pirate islands (Jack Sparrow springs to mind). This play on words is interesting. And I suspect it’s been established to distinguish the Pirate Islands architecture (Bermuda, Fiji and Tonga) from a more distinct group of Caribbean Islands based GPUs. AMD likely made some significant architectural advancements that warranted a change in the code name.
All will become clear once AMD begins divulging the details of the graphics refresh it has planned for 2015.