Around the past 4-5 months, we’ve talked about repeated merchandise shortages affecting just about each and every piece of substantial-end Pc or gaming components at the moment on the market place. A person of the far more intriguing factors of the problem has been the way it has strike anyone: Samsung-developed Nvidia GPUs are challenging to find, but so are TSMC-developed AMD GPUs. AMD CPU prices and availability has been all around the map. The PS5 and Xbox Collection S|X have been in and out of inventory.
Given that AMD doesn’t make its possess components, a ton of eyeballs have focused on TSMC for the duration of this interval, but it has not been crystal clear if that’s in which the true trouble lies. A person explanation is that big demand + ramping up new layouts have created bottlenecks in the market place. Another — a person we haven’t dug into considerably, owing to not knowing in which the trouble could be coming from — is that there’s an upstream challenge with a distinctive corporation in the chip production source chain that’s feeding this challenge.
Experiences from tumble, 2020 advised that TSMC was operating by a scarcity of ABF substrate. ABF (Ajinomoto Develop-up Film) is a resin that insulates modern-day ICs and resists enlargement and contraction dependent on variations in temperature. Connections bridging the hole amongst the nanoscale (IC) and millimeter-scale (packaging) are created by an ABF layer, as shown under:
ABF is amazingly important to the chip-packaging process, and an ongoing scarcity is hitting fairly considerably anyone who employs state-of-the-art packaging expectations. This could suit our criteria for an important piece of the all round explanation of what is likely on, for the reason that this is not an challenge that would impression just Nvidia, AMD, Intel, or any other single corporation. If TSMC can not buy adequate of it, the impression could ripple out throughout the market place, hitting a range of companies. Apple, Qualcomm, and Samsung all use ABF as properly. DigiTimes documented on a scarcity at minimum as early as June 2020 and claimed it could widen and worsen in 2021. That prediction appears to have borne fruit.
Very low yields on GDDR6 have also been blamed for GPU shortages, although all over again, it’s not crystal clear just which component shortages are driving which troubles. But it’s crystal clear this goes outside of yield troubles, which will make sense — we have read rumors of lower 8N yields at Samsung, but absolutely nothing about any equivalents at TSMC. We also know that AMD has been shipping 7nm silicon out of TSMC because mid-2019, implying that the node need to be fairly mature by now, even for substantial-electrical power desktop chips and GPUs. The fact that we’re looking at world wide troubles does suggest there could be extra variables in participate in.
Also, the crypto market place is exploding all over again, which is likely to assist just no a person and absolutely nothing when it will come to locating a alternative to ongoing shortages. A report from HardwareTimes statements that Sony and Microsoft have reserved up to 80 p.c of AMD’s 7nm production for consoles. Presumably, this is a reference to 80 p.c of the allocation AMD purchases from TSMC, as opposed to an implication that both agency acquired 7nm fab space “from” AMD (AMD is a chip designer, not a maker). A problem in which AMD allocated 80 p.c of its production to consoles is not as outrageous as it appears if you presume the arrangement was just about unquestionably a limited-lived a person, supposed to cover only the original launch volumes. Of program, the persistent shortages and ongoing demand have certain the consoles would continue being incredibly hot-ticket objects for more time. Given that this has been the circumstance with each and every other substantial-end merchandise, we’re essentially caught in the substantial-tech equivalent of sixteen individuals trying to go by a doorway at the exact identical time. Winners? No one. Losers? Anyone trying to buy components devoid of promoting a kidney and/or building a Faustian cut price around supply time frames.
TSMC’s major suppliers for ABF are all rumored to be dealing with ongoing shortages. There are rumors that AMD can not at the moment meet up with demand for notebooks for the reason that of the ABF trouble and that the challenge could worsen in Q3 2021 when Zen 3 notebooks appear to market place. Up right until now, we’ve read a ton of rumors that the shortages would relieve in March-April 2021, but if the ABF angle is genuine, it could consider more time.
Function graphic credit: Laura Ockel/Unsplash, PCMag