- Oct 27, 2006
Yeah, I agree, don't know how long we'll be at 7/7+, but it would probably take more effort to build and staff a new FAB expansion than it would be relevant if purely 7nm.There is no point building a 7nm fab now. Put in an enormous order on 5nm, secure wafers now, and give TSMC the support to build their next generation.
Either way, they need capacity if they're going to BE the x86 front-runner they deserve to be in measure of their product. Funding a dedicated fab with TSMC could see them not having to get in line with such a limited resource as they are now.
Let's say that currently they can get X number of chiplets per month from a limited number of wafers, and of those, the yield is 30/40/20/10 on great, good, poor, and defective. It's just not enough to displace Intel substantially outside of tiny DIY, and due to needing return on margins with lower quantity, they can't even use price as pressure without hurting themselves for no reason. Now let's further hypothesize, fairly I think, that that same 7nm Fab is shared with other fabless entities who need their stuff produced as well.
Any respins or revisions will take some extra hassles in this kind of shared environment, but above all, I simply don't think the production is there.
If they have confidence that for the foreseeable future the Ryzen series will be defacto superior x86, then that *should* allow for them to entirely lead the market, with a little lag time for marketing and OEM liaison work, as well as expanding distribution etc. But saying 'hey TSMC, can you fulfill 8x the wafers next year?' is likely a non starter, but that's just scratching the surface of OEM level volume. For all of DIY by sales price (thanks to lots of expensive/overpriced stuff), by volume it's absolutely teeny tiny compared to the overall OEM and B2B market.
To give an example more directly, speaking to the manager at Micro Center, they have been getting around two dozen TOTAL 3900/3950X SKUs when they come through, if they're lucky enough to see them. I could guess that globally they're perhaps a few thousand 3900X, and a few hundreds of the 3950X by quarter. Compare to sales to Dell, HP, Lenovo, etc, where orders can be in the millions to tens of millions of SKUs.