NVIDIA’s Ampere GPU Launching In 2020, Will Be Based On Samsung’s 7nm EUV Process
What is probably the first tangible (and reliable) leak for Ampere GPUs after their certification almost a year ago has surfaced. Taiwan's leading publication has confirmed that NVIDIA's Ampere GPUs will be launching in 2020 and will be based on the Samsung 7nm EUV process. This is very very interesting news for us, not only because it tells us about NVIDIA's roadmap, but because it also reveals some very pertinent details about the process.
NVIDIA's Ampere GPUs landing in 2020, will not be manufactured on TSMC's but Samsung's 7nm EUV process
We have previously heard of NVIDIA's Ampere GPUs when they passed their EEC certification, but nothing more came up since then. Now however, we have a tentative timeline: they will be launching in 2020. It is highly likely that NVIDIA will continue with their RTX philosophy and take that to the next level with Ampere. Right now, the Turing GPU is capable of raytracing at 1080p 30 fps for light to moderate path ray tracing workloads. The Ampere GPU will be able to go further.
The fact that it is based on Samsung's 7nm EUV process means we are looking at a performance advantage as well as a power efficiency advantage. Not only that, but believe it or not, 7nm EUV is actually supposed to be easier to fab than standard UV multi-patterning efforts. Think of EUV as sort of a reset of the difficulty curve as the company moves to a new light source. This will, however, require extensive re-tooling, but the economies of scale will almost certainly prove to be worth it. At a bare minimum you are looking at a 50% increase all things considered and watt for watt.
Here's the thing right, NVIDIA is one of the biggest customers of TSMC and has been their loyal patron since pretty much the dawn of modern gaming tech. If they are actually planning to shift to Samsung's 7nm technology, then that will have repercussions not only for the company, but for TSMC as well. There are two possible things that are going on here, either Samsung is offering them a better deal financially, or NVIDIA has reason to believe Samsung's 7nm tech is better. We can guess one reason for why this might be the case. Right now, TSMC's 7nm process is not based on EUV, but they do have an EUV node planned. The process that NVIDIA is planning to shift to, at Samsung's, is EUV.
That would imply that they have reason to believe that Samsung's EUV process is better positioned to help them achieve their goals than the TSMC-based one. Another potential reason is that TSMC cannot offer them a large amount of volume and will never prioritize them over the likes of Apple Inc. At the same time, AMD is using up a lot of their capacity and things are getting too cramped in there for NVIDIA's liking. Samsung's foundries on the other hand have ample capacity and considering the giant that Samsung Electronics is, can simply throw money at yield problems to make them disappear.
Everything considered, Samsung is the logical partner for a company as ambitious as NVIDIA. With a big question mark on Intel Foundries' capabilities right now and TSMC hogged down, Samsung remains the only leading edge foundry for NVIDIA to tap into. GlobalFoundries dropped out of the leading edge race earlier this year - not that they would have been considered to begin with. Ampere GPUs are the next station for NVIDIA's hype train so I think I can officially declare: all aboard!