[Rumour] ATI’s next generation – Southern Islands

ATI’s next generation was revealed to be N. Islands on an official roadmap back in 2009. It was meant to be a 32nm process, with release sometime between Q4 2010 and Q1 2011. Unfortunately, thanks to TSMC’s 40nm botch-up, they lost confidence in the 32nm half-node, and canceled it completely – seeking to put their focus on 28nm.

This meant ATI’s N. Islands had to be moved to 28nm, with a delay. TSMC kept slipping 28nm as well, and soon, it was quite apparent 28nm would not be ready in time for the delayed release of NI in Q1 2011.

More details next page.


ATI’s next generation was revealed to be N. Islands on an official
roadmap back in 2009. It was meant to be a 32nm process, with release
sometime between Q4 2010 and Q1 2011. Unfortunately, thanks to TSMC’s
40nm botch-up, they lost confidence in the 32nm half-node, and canceled
it completely – seeking to put their focus on 28nm.

This meant ATI’s N. Islands had to be moved to 28nm, with a delay. TSMC
kept slipping 28nm as well, and soon, it was quite apparent 28nm would
not be ready in time for the delayed release of NI in Q1 2011.

This led to rumours that N. Islands will be moved to Globalfoundries. However, even they would not be ready for 28nm by Q1 2011. So, it seems AMD will be stuck with the 40nm TSMC bulk process for a while now.

Recent rumours have suggested that N. Islands will be moved to 40nm. However, this would be quite an issue for a GPU originally designed for 32nm.

So, it seems the best solution in this case is a half-generation at 40nm, called Southern Islands. SemiAccurate suggest S. Islands is a hybrid between Evergreen and N. Islands, but, in general, details are lacking. It wouldn’t be surprising if S. Islands turns out to be nothing but a refresh of the Evergreen series, before moving to a mature 28nm process either at TSMC or Globalfoundries. AMD’s advantage is that they can afford to play it safe for now, considering the competition’s weakness.

As for Nvidia – GF100 is no doubt a promising architecture, but it is screaming for a 28nm die shrink. Either that, or a complete revision from scratch. It seems unlikely either would happen before ATI releases S. Islands, which could be by the end of this year.

Reference: SemiAccurate

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