AMD ‘Zen 4’ 5nm Products Will Launch In 2021, 5nm Yield Has Already Crossed 7nm

Dec 5, 2019

AMD has been on a red hot streak lately and it looks like it can't get anything wrong. If this report from China Times is to be believed (and this is usually a reliable source) then TSMC's 5nm testing is going very well and the first 3 customers have already been locked in - including AMD. According to the schedule obtained by China Times, AMD's 5nm products will be landing in early 2021 with mass production for 5nm scheduled in 2020.

AMD among first three customers to grab TSMC 5nm production capacity, NVIDIA missing from the picture

What is really amazing to hear in the report is that TSMC's 5nm yield has already crossed 7nm - which is quite the feat. This would mean that TSMC's 5nm will become viable sooner than expected and the transition from 7nm to 5nm can begin in earnest as well. The three customers that will be able to grab the first wave of production capacity are Apple, HiSilicon and AMD. While it is not surprising to see Apple get the first bite, it is interesting to see NVIDIA missing from this list - as I would have assumed they would be first in line to grab onto a process advantage (although this might be a questionable assumption considering they have yet to launch 7nm GPUs).

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As per my understanding, the reason NVIDIA has yet to jump to 7nm is because of yield issues. If TSMC has managed to get 5nm yield higher than 7nm already than I can only assume that this statistic will only get better by 2021. If NVIDIA is no longer able to get the first bite of the product, then they might be at a disadvantage if AMD decides to revive its GPU side of things and make a comeback - which is expected to happen with the launch of "big Navi".

On the other hand, the pressure has just increased even further for Intel - which is struggling to push 10nm out and aims to achieve 7nm by 2021. For the layman - Intel's 7nm is roughly equal to 5nm and is based on EUV, so it should be easier to execute than 10nm (counter-intuitively) which is not based on EUV. If Intel can get to 7nm by 2021, then at the very least, it will be on an equal footing with TSMC. Any other scenario would mean Intel losing even more market share and the stock price taking a big hit.

TSMC's 5nm process has crossed 50% yield according to the report (which is what the yield for 7nm supposedly is right now) [edit: seems to be a translation error] and monthly production capacity has been increased from 50000 units to 70000 units with 80000 units on the horizon. Thew new 5nm process is 1.8 times as dense as the older 7nm one (offering even more scalability for AMD's MCM philosophy) and can increase clock speeds by 15%. This means that a CPU and GPU that are currently netting 4.4 GHz and 1700 MHz respectively, will be able to hit the 5.0GHz and 1955 MHz marks quite easily.

It honestly feels like AMD's luck is nowhere near to running out and the company's current stock price can only move higher. With TSMC handling the process lead over the industry and AMD's award winning Zen designs in place and prices cheaper than anyone else's - the one complaint a consumer can make right now is that the company give a little bit more attention to the GPU side as well. Everything else, as they say, is gold.