After an eternity at 40nm, thanks to 32nm cancelation and 28nm delays, the GPU industry is finally transitioning to TSMC's long, long awaited 28nm HKMG process. Fudzilla reports that NVIDIA's next-gen GPU, based on the Kepler architecture, has already been taped out. On the AMD side of things, we have heard reports of Southern Islands tape-out dating all the way back to March 2011. AMD's Southern Islands GPUs could release as early as September, with NVIDIA's Kepler releasing earliest in Q4 2011; more likely Q1 2012.
At this early stage, there is still very little known about the next generation. While AMD has recently presented it's future GPU architecture at AMD Fusion Developer Summit, the HD 7000 generation is expected to be a tweaked version of the VLIW-4 architecture currently used only in HD 6900 series. Of course, it is possible that the one line of the HD 7000 series – perhaps HD 7900 – will feature the new AMD's Graphics Core Next architecture, following a similar architecture split as seen in the HD 6000 series. Other rumours also suggest AMD will be splitting GPU lines between TSMC and Globalfoundries. While optimistic rumours peg Southern Islands' release date at mid-Q3, SemiAccurate suggests that September is a more likely release date for the first HD 7000 GPUs. The bottleneck, as usual, is TSMC, and it remains to be seen when they can fab 28nm wafers, and in what quantity?
Incredibly, the first 40nm GPU, the HD 4770, was released over 2 years back. Pegged back at 40nm, both NVIDIA and AMD have only offered incremental performance upgrades for the Geforce 500 and HD 6000 generations. The GPU industry, in general, desperately needs an efficient 28nm process – over to TSMC.