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Globalfoundries 14LPP Is On Time For AMD’s Zen – Volume Ramp To Start In Early 2016


Globalfoundries communicated the progress of its 14nm plans this past Saturday, asserting that its 14LPE FinFET process is on track for volume production this year, while its high performance 14LPP is set for qualification in the second half of the year with volume ramp set to take off early next year.

Globalfoundries 14nm 14LPE 14LPP
A rumor emerged last week claiming that AMD had relocated the production of its upcoming Zen based chips from Globalfoundries to TSMC. Which allegedly occurred as a result of concerns from the Sunny Vale California based chip maker over sluggish progress of Gloablfoundries' 14nm FinFET process plans.  A setback that was allegedly fueled by a challenging economic climate in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, which owns Globalfoundries. We should note that none of these claims were verified or validated, and as such this is still very much a rumor.

However, speaking to Wccftech Jason Gorss, Senior Manager, Corporate and Technology Communications at Globalfoundries affirmed this past Saturday that progress for the company's 14nm FinFET manufacturing is not only on track but is actually ahead of schedule and 14nm has so far managed to exceed plans for yield and defect density, stating :

Our 14nm FinFET ramp is exceeding plan with best-in-class yield and defect density. The early-access version of the technology (14LPE) was qualified in January and is well on its way to volume production, meeting yield targets on lead customer products. The performance-enhanced version of the technology (14LPP) is set for qualification in the second half of 2015, with the volume ramp beginning in early 2016. Prototyping on test vehicles has demonstrated excellent logic and SRAM yields and performance at near 100% of target.

14LPP Could Be The Ideal Candidate For AMD's Zen CPUs

14LPE is the early access "low power" version of the common Samsung/Globalfoudnries 14nm FinFET process. While 14LPP is a second generation, high performance variant that is set to succeed 14LPE. Despite its name, 14LPP should deliver better performance as well as lower power consumption, the only caveat being its later availability.

14nm FinFET Technology

14LPE – Early time-to-market version with area and power benefits for mobility applications
14LPP – Enhanced version with higher performance and lower power; a full platform offering with MPW, IP enablement and wide application coverage

Globalfoundries Samsung 14nm FinFET 14LPE 14LPP
I should clearly point out that AMD has refused on multiple occasions to specify where exactly it plans to produce its Zen based products launching next year. It maintains that these parts will be produced on "FinFET" but does not provide much detail beyond that. Globalfoundries also doesn't talk about specific client products or relationships. And while AMD still does not want to officially commit to any one particular foundry for the production of its hotly anticipated Zen based CPUs, Globalfoundries remains a likely candidate.

Historically, Globalfoundries has been AMD's first choice for its CPU and APU products. However we've witnessed AMD contract TSMC for some of its smaller APU chips on occasion, such as its Bobcat and Jaguar - two of AMD's small low power cat cores - based mobility APUs in 2011 and 2013.  Notably AMD later moved production of these smaller APU parts to Globalfoundries, starting with its Puma based APUs in 2014.

However Globalfoundries was also famously responsible for the delay of AMD's 32nm SOI Llano APUs in 2011 and the late debut of AMD's 32nm SOI based Bulldozer based processors. Management at Globalfoundries has changed since then however, and delivering 14nm FinFET on time will be a defining test for the company going forward.

AMD x86 Zen Core Architecture
14LPP certainly seems like an ideal manufacturing process for AMD's Zen based chips from a technical stand point, but it's still crucial that 14LPP is delivered on time. It's apparent that AMD's public non-commitment to Globalfoundries over TSMC or vice versa for Zen is one way for the company to hedge its bets. Zen is going to play a major role in deciding AMD's financial future and delivering it to the market on-time is going to be critical for its success. This is going to be AMD's next make-or-break product launch, so it should come as no surprise that CEO Lisa Su seemingly decided not to take any chances.