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Samsung Reaches Milestone For 14nm Technology

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the ensmallening dept.

Technology 123

An anonymous reader writes "Samsung announced a milestone on its development of 14nm manufacturing semiconductors, claiming that it offers major advantages to system-on-chip devices using in consumer electronic products (especially lower power). They recently taped out a Cortex-A7 processor with this technology, calling it a significant milestone for the fabless ecosystem."

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fabless ecosystem? (2)

Janek Kozicki (722688) | about 2 years ago | (#42377517)

What is fabless ecosystem?

Re:fabless ecosystem? (5, Funny)

sharkey (16670) | about 2 years ago | (#42377545)

Something Austin Powers wouldn't go near or attempt to save, I expect.

Re:fabless ecosystem? (4, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 2 years ago | (#42377657)

It's like being homeless, only in the IC industry.

Re:fabless ecosystem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42377699)

Like staying in a hotel that don't allow you to cook. You have to order out your food.

Re:fabless ecosystem? (1)

knarf (34928) | about 2 years ago | (#42377743)

Homeless? No, not really. In social terms I'd compare a fabless ecosystem with a bachelor - wherever I lay my head, that's my home.

Re:fabless ecosystem? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42377667)

I guess it means they're selling fab capacity to companies who cannot manufacture their own chips. AMD and Nvidia would be an example of such companies, but so would a lot of others.

Re:fabless ecosystem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42380343)

Apple? Except that, due to supply constraints, they won't be selling to Apple.

Re:fabless ecosystem? (5, Informative)

mikael (484) | about 2 years ago | (#42377727)

With mobile devices, the CPU as well as many other logic components (GPU, accelerometers, compass, GPS, video decompression) are provided as licensed silicon designs. These designs are combined together by a separate vendor to form a complete system, thus System-On-A-Chip. These companies don't make boards, connectors, chips, or even silicon dies, they just license designs and device drivers. MEMS alone allows sensors like accelerometers, compasses to be implemented using standard silicon manufacturing processes with no additional hardware required. Other companies may provide profiling and debugging tools. So a complete ecosystem forms.

With Samsung being able to get down to 14nm, that means every company benefits. There is now space for more transistors, so everyone can add more features, more cache memory, more cores.

Just like Linux. One group does kernel work, another group does compilers and debuggers, someone else does GUI, X-windows, and others maintain web browsers, device drivers and command line applications. These are all combined to form a Linux distribution ISO file.

Re:fabless ecosystem? (5, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#42378225)

With Samsung being able to get down to 14nm, that means every company benefits.

You put too much polish on the apple.

Fabless means you are someone else's Bitch. You have to buy from someone else because you don't have a fabrication facility to make your own processors.

  Like Apple, currently shopping around for another chip manufacturer after Samsung raised prices, (to earn back billion dollar fine which will most likely be overturned on appeal). Even if Apple finds another fab to make their processors and related chips, they will still be a generation behind Samsung.

With the power savings available at 14nm, Samsung will be able to ask premium prices. All the smaller manufactures will end up buying from Samsung.

Re:fabless ecosystem? (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | about 2 years ago | (#42378527)

Sounds like the market working as it should to me.

Re:fabless ecosystem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42378647)

Why is this still modded “Troll”? (+2 though)

He's right. It created dependence. Exactly like when you use Microsoft Office for your documents. And dependence is *always* used, to fuck you in the ass, as soon as they have a grip around your nuts.

Re:fabless ecosystem? (1)

JonySuede (1908576) | about 2 years ago | (#42379013)

You just have to find 2 supplier for your drugs... err component and make them compete, it works as long as you are a good customer and have big muscles....

Re:fabless ecosystem? (1)

ThatsLoseNotLoose (719462) | about 2 years ago | (#42379427)

i don't know why you're modded troll, but I'm replying just to cancel my "overrated" mis-click mod. I meant to hit "underrated". Damn my old eyes.

Re:fabless ecosystem? (1)

rolfwind (528248) | about 2 years ago | (#42379915)

Like Apple, currently shopping around for another chip manufacturer after Samsung raised prices, (to earn back billion dollar fine which will most likely be overturned on appeal).

That reported story, sourced from a single Korean newspaper article, has been denied:
http://www.zdnet.com/samsung-wont-increase-the-price-of-apple-processors-report-7000007412/ [zdnet.com]

As they are in contract, I find it hard to believe that a supplier could arbitrarily raise prices.

Re:fabless ecosystem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42380005)

How the hell did this get modded insightful?

Just like Linux?

Just like any thing, different parts are worked on by different people that come together to make the final thing. That's everything, cars, bicycles, boats, pencils. You name it.

fabulous ecosystem? (1)

Frankie70 (803801) | about 2 years ago | (#42379051)

It's Koren for fabulous ecosystem.

Re:fabless ecosystem? (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | about 2 years ago | (#42379099)

Companies like Nvidia, Apple, google that want custom chips built but don't want to own chip-making factories. 14nm is catching up with Intel. IBM and AMD are maybe one step behind at least for production. But they are a big shep ahead of TMSC who is the BIG player in the space... Namely, who Apple is moving to.

Of course it's a douvle whammy for Apple as its Apple's upfront money that allows Samsung manufacturing to get ahead... While the consumer sales division knifes Apple in the back... So Apple's gotta give this opportunity up.

Re:fabless ecosystem? (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 2 years ago | (#42380851)

IBM, GlobalFoundries (formerly AMD and Chartered), Samsung have an agreement to share semiconductor manufacturing R&D. So their manufacturing processes are supposed to be similar.

prior art! (4, Funny)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | about 2 years ago | (#42377549)

Apple should sue them for "method and apparatus" to make something smaller.

Re:prior art! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42377619)

That would be a comment borne of ignorance.

Wouldn't it also infringe (2, Funny)

Andy Prough (2730467) | about 2 years ago | (#42377921)

on Apple's patents on "making something", "thinking about making something", and "dropping acid to free your mind to think about making something"?

Re:prior art! (0, Troll)

ahabswhale (1189519) | about 2 years ago | (#42378009)

Seriously people...please stop introducing Apple into every fucking conversation. The whole "they'll sue you for this and that" thing is getting really fucking old. It's not original. Yes, we know they are litigious. Get over it and move on with your life.

Agreed! (0, Offtopic)

Andy Prough (2730467) | about 2 years ago | (#42378067)

The whole "they'll sue you for this and that" thing is getting really fucking old.

You are right - Apple should seriously stop being a patent troll and slow down with the lawsuits. Although, I'm sure Darl McBride would be proud.

Re:Agreed! (-1)

ahabswhale (1189519) | about 2 years ago | (#42378121)

Don't be a fucking moron just because you hate Apple. Apple is enforcing their patents. The law REQUIRES them to do so or risk losing their patents. If you don't like it, change the fucking law. Also, Samsung flat out ripped off a half dozen patents of Apple as decided by a FUCKING JURY. So spare me the bullshit about every time they sue it's a bunch of bullshit.

It's remarkable how many people are completely clueless about patents and, more specifically, Apple.

I don't hate Apple. (1)

Andy Prough (2730467) | about 2 years ago | (#42378179)

My kids have iPods and an iPhone and a Macbook Air lying around the house. Not my cup of tea personally. And yes - Apple sues too much over stupid (and increasingly invalidated) patents. And yes, it reminds me of SCO's business strategy, and its a really really bad business strategy.

Re:Agreed! (2)

Typing Monkey (537890) | about 2 years ago | (#42378211)

Trademarks can be lost or weakened by not taking action, this does not apply to patents.
I will agree that there are a lot of clueless people around tho.

Re:Agreed! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42378659)

False. If you patent something, and within a e.g. a year, fail to actually produce that "apparatus" and offer it on the market, your patent in invalidated.

Clueless people... yeah, and it's funny how they always project that condition onto others.

Re:Agreed! (1)

ahabswhale (1189519) | about 2 years ago | (#42378721)

Actually it does apply to patents. I have no idea where you get your info from.

Re:Agreed! (0)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#42378287)

Apple is enforcing their patents. The law REQUIRES them to do so or risk losing their patents.

Absolutely not true. They always have the option of licensing them at reasonable prices.

But the funny part, is Apple's track record of defending their patents. It seems most of the patents they put at risk by using them as the basis for a law suit are ultimately declared invalid. You would think they would be a little worried about suing these days, and just start collecting license fees.

Re:Agreed! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42378607)

They have no intention of collecting license fees because that would enable smaller companies to enter the market. They would rather "compete" only with one or two megacorps who have deep enough pockets to go to court and get a judgement one way or the other. It doesn't matter if they win or lose as long as getting there is prohibitively expensive. It's much easier to fix the market when the market is only four companies.

Re:Agreed! (0)

ahabswhale (1189519) | about 2 years ago | (#42378741)

It's absolutely true. Yes, they can choose to license the technology but Samsung made no attempt to do so. Apple approached Samsung with licensing terms (that were pricey) and Samsung refused to pay. The inevitable law suit followed. Keep in mind that Samsung would have had a much better negotiating position had the approached Apple prior to using the technology than afterwards.

Honestly, I don't get why people feel sorry for a giant company like Samsung that knows better.

Re:Agreed! (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 2 years ago | (#42380857)

Bollocks. Apple was not willing to negotiate licensing terms. Neither did they want to pay the market price for Samsung's own patents.

Re:Agreed! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42378885)

The law REQUIRES them to do so or risk losing their patents

It's remarkable how many people are completely clueless about patents

I agree. It is remarkable.

Re:prior art! (1)

DMiax (915735) | about 2 years ago | (#42378561)

If you cannot take a joke, it is you that should get on with your life. Unless you are working for them, I suggest you to be less emotionally attached to an electronics company, no matter how good their devices are.

Re:prior art! (1)

ahabswhale (1189519) | about 2 years ago | (#42378759)

Iol...I'm not emotionally attached to any company. I own Apple products (MBA) but I also own a Samsung Galaxy Nexus, a Nexus 7, and a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. Still think I'm a fanboy, dipshit? I think it's obvious you're the one with emotional issues since you feel the need to defend this practice of making incredibly unoriginal jokes.

Re:prior art! (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | about 2 years ago | (#42379137)

This is only news because Samsung is gonna have to sell this to somebody OTHER THAN APPLE... It was DESIGNED just for Apple... So Apple is directly relevant.

Re:prior art! (1)

ahabswhale (1189519) | about 2 years ago | (#42379179)

Source?

I don't see how they wouldn't want this for themselves.

Re:prior art! (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | about 2 years ago | (#42380021)

Because Samsung sells fab services. These processes cost billions to set up so you gotta have a full 24x7x365 dockett lined up before you turn the thing on.

Apple has been one of their largest customers for a decade. Except the master of Samsung "parts" can't keep the masters of Samsung "gadgets" from publically marketing against their top customer's products (the ones with 50% of the costs of parts coming BACK to Samsung's wallet)

This is only news because the line WOULD have been maxed out making stuff for Apple... But the bosses pissed Apple off, so they gotta sell the new process to somebody else... A LOT of somebodies....

Re:prior art! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42380195)

I think it is more likely Samsung will be laughing all the way to the bank. Samsung are their own best customer for these parts and they with this new design they will they will surge further ahead. Apple is likely kicking themselves for pissing Samsung off as they will now need to go cap in hand to beg them for chips and Samsung won't need their orders.

Re:prior art! (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | about 2 years ago | (#42379133)

Apple would have loved to pay Aamsung for this tech... In fact basically Apple IS paying, right now, for it as EVERY iPod, iPad, and iPhone processor sold so far is from Samsung... Samsung's management can't grasp not to fuck over its own biggest customer so Apple is moving elsewhere.. Like has been said, to get another supplier that won't screw them over by directly MARKETING products against them.

Re:prior art! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42380203)

Apple can't seem to grasp not to piss off the number 1 manufacturer and leader in many of the techs apple Needs. The only loser here is apple. If they hadn't acted like arseholes they would have probably been at the front of the queue to take advantage of this,

Better than Intel (-1, Troll)

ickleberry (864871) | about 2 years ago | (#42377567)

I'm tired of what's been going on pretty much since the IC was invented. Intel is king and has a stockpile of 30 years worth of technology that it can put into production at relatively short notice.

Each time someone like AMD turns up the heat on Intel they say "No, lets skip this box of technology we made ready for ourselves back in the day and move straight onto the next one, no harm done." then when the competition is stumbling they say "We'll see how long we can get away with selling the current stuff, then we'll open the next box and sell it way overpriced". Fcuk it Intel probably have the processors that are 'coming out' in 2017 already laying on a shelf in a warehouse somewhere by the millions.

Re:Better than Intel (2)

bloodhawk (813939) | about 2 years ago | (#42377583)

These are ARM based chips and they are completely dominating, if Intel had 30 years of advanced technology they wouldn't be so far behind on the low powered chip side of things.

Re:Better than Intel (2)

Guspaz (556486) | about 2 years ago | (#42377593)

Umm, no. They had a hell of a time moving to 22nm and getting volume production up, pretty much your entire post is just paranoid delusion.

Intel just has more money to throw at the problems, and they've managed to get a lead of a few years on the other companies. They only maintain that lead because they keep pushing forward.

The problem is that makes it harder for everybody else to compete, but that's not really Intel's fault.

Re:Better than Intel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42377683)

That only holds until Intel started strong-arming the board and boxmakers not to build K7 systems.

That was EVIL, Intel was convicted, and they didn't get a fraction of the punishment they deserved.

Re:Better than Intel (0)

White Flame (1074973) | about 2 years ago | (#42377737)

That only holds until Intel started strong-arming the board and boxmakers not to build K7 systems.

I see what you did there...

Re:Better than Intel (1)

alen (225700) | about 2 years ago | (#42377603)

ARM is cheaper and that's why intel is screwed

Few computing tasks need the power of an I core CPU

Re:Better than Intel (1)

nomel (244635) | about 2 years ago | (#42377691)

Depends on your cost metric. They're only cheaper if you don't consider cost per computation/second.

Re:Better than Intel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42377721)

When your dealing in tablets and smartphones that metric is irrelevant, Power consumption and total cost of chip are far more important than computation cost per second.

Re:Better than Intel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42378147)

Watt consumption are guys talking about?

Re:Better than Intel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42378675)

Actually, that's wrong. Since ARM chips are so much cheaper, that you get a *lot* more bang for the buck. Including energy usage buck.

Re:Better than Intel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42378277)

In the 80's someone once said.
No one will ever need more than 1GB of memory....

Re:Better than Intel (1)

Scannerman (1136265) | about 2 years ago | (#42378955)

In the 80's someone once said.
No one will ever need more than 1GB of memory....

I think you will find that was 1 megabyte. - the original IBM PC could only address 640KB.

1GB would have been unthinkable until a few years ago. I can remember being massively impressed by a 64MB machine in the mid '90s.

Re:Better than Intel (1)

fast turtle (1118037) | about 2 years ago | (#42378695)

you're right that few computing tasks need the power of an I core until you start looking into the performance and do what I'm planning. My next build revolves around an E3-1245v2 Xeon that will be underclocked to around 10 percent. Should meet my current performance (x2-240) for less then 15 watts. Right now, I'm projecting a total of 60w for the CPU/GPU/SSD/3x 2TB Drives. This system will be run off a solar power system (off-grid home) and used as the Gaming/Media Center

Re:Better than Intel (1)

ericloewe (2129490) | about 2 years ago | (#42380377)

I beg to differ.

I'd rather pay 200 bucks for a processor that actually gets stuff done, than pay 25 for one that tends to work well with very specific stuff. And let's not even go into energy efficiency.

Re:Better than Intel (1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | about 2 years ago | (#42377609)

To be honest, I tried to sum up some outrage over your statement... but I just couldn't.

If Intel really is THAT good that they can coast through life and still beat their competition in technological advancements... then fine.

Eventually, if your theory is right, someone will come along (maybe even ex-Intel engineers) and beat them. It is already happening in other sectors.

Re:Better than Intel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42379261)

To be honest, I tried to sum up some outrage over your statement

(emphasis added)

It's "summon" up. Unless you intend to do arithmetic, the word is "summon".

Re:Better than Intel (2)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 2 years ago | (#42377613)

Mod post ignorant. If that were true, AMD wouldnt have been so far superior to Intel back in the P4 / Pentium D days.

Fact is it takes about 3-5 years for this tech to be fully realized, and Intel is currently (AFAIK) the only one with solid 22nm production simply because their R&D budget is huge. If you find that scary or whatever you can send your dollars to AMD to help them get up to speed.

Still a year behind Intel (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42377677)

Tape-out means Samsung has got a design that they think might work but hasn't actually been fabbed. Intel has had WORKI(NG 14nm microprocessors (in the lab, not in production) since mid 2012. It will be mid 2013 before Samsung has that. Intel will be in production by then. (Production starts some months before retail shipments since they have to build up inventory, get parts to integrators, etc.) Intel's lead seems to be about where it was before, not getting larger but isn't clearly getting smaller.

Re:Better than Intel (5, Informative)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 2 years ago | (#42377885)

you know AMD is only 10 months younger than intel right? or that Acron computers, where the ARM guys came from has been developing their cpu since the 1980's?

cause you make it sound like they just popped up out of nowhere yesterday, or maybe that's just your uninformed tinfoil hat conspiracy that intel, 2pac and sea lab are really ruling the world.

Re:Better than Intel (0)

ickleberry (864871) | about 2 years ago | (#42377917)

Yes it probably my own uninformed tinfoil hat conspiracy but I'm glad the kind folk of Slashdot are willing to debunk it for me

Re:Better than Intel (1)

CODiNE (27417) | about 2 years ago | (#42379969)

intel, 2pac and sea lab are really ruling the world.

Hmm. Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

Re:Better than Intel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42378047)

no, there is no such "30 years worth" stockpile. Intel doesn't have the most advanced results in chip R&D either, IBM and other are way ahead

Re:Better than Intel (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 2 years ago | (#42378125)

It's not like Intel had any extra gears to put in when AMD was spanking their ass some years back, they had a process lead and sustained that lead even as AMD was putting out much better CPU designs but no more than that. But the CPU business has been very much so that the one who invests more, earns more and then has more to invest more again and Intel has simply beat AMD by spreading the costs of R&D across more chips. For a while AMD beat it by developing a better design on a lower budget while Intel floundered but in the end economics of scale won out.

This is not just Intel, the number of semiconductor players has been shrinking drastically with processor size and that trend is only going to continue, five out of the top six biggest semiconductor companies increased their market share last year. More and more go with foundries and the foundries are getting fewer and bigger too. Now ARM chips might not be the most powerful chips in the world, but they make billions of them so their processing technology is pretty good. They're going to give Intel a good run for their money, it's certainly no walkover.

Re:Better than Intel (1)

aNonnyMouseCowered (2693969) | about 2 years ago | (#42378961)

"Intel probably have the processors that are 'coming out' in 2017 already laying on a shelf in a warehouse somewhere by the millions."

In the off chance you meant this literally, no. It would be extremely stupid to stock up real hardware that far ahead. I do suspect however that Intel has the technology already in the labs, which I suppose is what they base their so-called "roadmaps" on. The future is already here, it just hasn't been stress-tested yet.

Where would Samsung be? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42377587)

Where would Samsung be without all the revenue it reaped by copying the iPhone and iPad? This is how a company springboards itself using that revenue. Even if the current lawsuits and injunctions all were to go in Apple's favor, the damage to Apple is already in the history books.

Re:Where would Samsung be? (0)

M0j0_j0j0 (1250800) | about 2 years ago | (#42377633)

Well, looks like the copying boosted innovation after all! Apple invented "methods and apparatus of rubbing stuff" that's nothing. At most they created concepts, copying is good, and all this new protection on "inventions" is just slowing us down.

Re:Where would Samsung be? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42377661)

they would be right where they are now, minus a small percentage. Samsung have been on a rocket ride straight up long before Apple recovered from the gutter, Unlike Apple they have a wide range of profit products, they make their money from their Electronics, panel and memory parts sales to many other companies including Sony, Apple, Dell etc etc.

And... (1)

Andy Prough (2730467) | about 2 years ago | (#42378103)

TVs, Blu-ray & DVD Players, Home Theater Systems, Laptops, Chrome Devices, Media Players, Cameras, Camcorders, SD Cards, Laptops, All-in-One PCs, Tablet PCs, Monitors, Printers, Memory & Storage, Washers & Dryers, Refrigerators, Microwaves, Dishwashers, Ranges, Vacuums, LED Lighting, TV Accessories, Cell Phone Accessories, Tablet Accessories, Printer Toner & Supplies, Laptop Accessories, Digital Camera Accessories -- http://www.samsung.com/us [samsung.com]

Re:And... (1)

Pax681 (1002592) | about 2 years ago | (#42380205)

TVs, Blu-ray & DVD Players, Home Theater Systems, Laptops, Chrome Devices, Media Players, Cameras, Camcorders, SD Cards, Laptops, All-in-One PCs, Tablet PCs, Monitors, Printers, Memory & Storage, Washers & Dryers, Refrigerators, Microwaves, Dishwashers, Ranges, Vacuums, LED Lighting, TV Accessories, Cell Phone Accessories, Tablet Accessories, Printer Toner & Supplies, Laptop Accessories, Digital Camera Accessories -- http://www.samsung.com/us [samsung.com]

you forgot air conditioning units! saw them in Faro this year on holiday at the hotel ;)

Re:Where would Samsung be? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42379833)

Samsung has been on a "rocket ride" because they copied the iPhone and iPad. Everybody knows Apple revolutionized the mobile market with the iPhone. Virtually nobody's devices looked like the iPhone or iPad until Apple set the (new) standard. If Samsung hadn't copied, their market would be puny today. In fact, Samsung's mobile business would likely be out of business.

Re:Where would Samsung be? (0)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 2 years ago | (#42377935)

yea cause samsung ONLY makes those 2 products dont they

sounds like the fanboi's are especially but hurt on this one, never-mind apple couldn't fab a cardboard box without 4 outside contractors and a external design studio

Translation please (0)

Harold Halloway (1047486) | about 2 years ago | (#42377597)

They recently taped out a Cortex-A7 processor with this technology, calling it a significant milestone for the fabless ecosystem."

I'm very good at the English language but I have no idea what this means. How do you 'tape out' a processor? What's a 'fabless ecosystem'? (The rainforests are rather wonderful, I hear.)

Re:Translation please (5, Informative)

CrankyFool (680025) | about 2 years ago | (#42377687)

"Tape out" is a term of art of the processor industry. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tape-out [wikipedia.org] where the first sentence will tell you "In electronics design, tape-out or tapeout is the final result of the design cycle for integrated circuits or printed circuit boards, the point at which the artwork for the photomask of a circuit is sent for manufacture."

"Fabless ecosystem" is another term of art of the processor industry. Wikipedia is similarly helpful here at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fabless_manufacturing [wikipedia.org] -- where the first sentence will read "Fabless manufacturing is the design and sale of hardware devices and semiconductor chips while outsourcing the fabrication or "fab" of the devices to a specialized manufacturer called a semiconductor foundry."

STFW FTW.

Re:Translation please (1)

Nocturnal Deviant (974688) | about 2 years ago | (#42377989)

hmm TSMC has a rather large profit margin for 1-5b to even open it.

9.53B in complete profit in 2010 so within 1 year not only could said foundry pay its self off, it could also pay off all employees and leave 9.5 BILLION in liquid assets per year.

Revenue $13.982 billion (2010)
Operating income $4.444 billion (2009)
cost to open a foundry is also found on wikipedia between 1-4 billion dollars, which given yearly profit margins...is one insane investment...someone is living a very nice life now.

Re:Translation please (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42379369)

You're mixing revenue from multiple plants to cost for one.

Re:Translation please (1)

Nocturnal Deviant (974688) | about 2 years ago | (#42379601)

that was their total profit though, so even if they had 5+ plants my point is it would pay for its self so fast that it would be utterly negligible.

Re:Translation please (4, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#42377697)

"Tape out" is in my dad's generation they used the same tech for photolithography for both PCBs and ICs. In other words a "Draftsman" (which is kind of like a CAD operator, but manual, done by hand) using what looks like black electrical tape stripes on clear mylar sheets. Then a projector blasts UV light thru the marked up sheet onto a photosensitive copper circuit board, or silicon slice, and where the UV hits the plastic polymerizes and is "permanent" and where it doesn't, it washes away. Sorta like a photo negative enlarger but more of a shrinker than an enlarger... which is another mostly dead technology. You'll meet people who rewrite history for laughs who claim the "tape" is magnetic tape of cad drafting or maybe Verilog/VHDL. In the "biz" it means the dev team has ended work and the responsibility is now entirely on the production team (assuming it achieves production level success on the first try, without any design issues ruining yield, LOL)

"Fabless ecosystem" is fru fru talk for you outsource your manufacturing to a company (usually a competitor) you trust to give you reliable access to their best processes, while trusting them not to "pirate" your IP which is your companies only resource. Its a great idea for weird stuff where you can corner the market or R+D or teaching. Strikes me as an idiotic business model for competitive "mainstream" processors or generic commodity chips.

Re:Translation please (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about 2 years ago | (#42378805)

I did some "taping out" in the 70s, the black tape was for things on both sides of the PCB (e.g. holes and edge connectors), while blue and red tape were used for top and bottom traces.

Re:Translation please (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42377705)

I believe it means they're done designing it, its being sent off for a manufacturing run. They'll do a small run and validate, and if something goes wrong, they'll start working on the design again. If all goes well, they'll ramp up, I suppose.

Re:Translation please (2)

SeaFox (739806) | about 2 years ago | (#42377731)

They recently taped out a Cortex-A7 processor with this technology, calling it a significant milestone for the fabless ecosystem."

I'm very good at the English language but I have no idea what this means. How do you 'tape out' a processor? What's a 'fabless ecosystem'? (The rainforests are rather wonderful, I hear.)

"Taping out" [wikipedia.org] is the process of laying out the actual lines that will become the paths of the circuit. This used to be done with actual tape and photographed and reduced in size. Somehow I doubt they actually used that method with this and more likely the work was all done on a computer.

I can only assume a "fabless ecosystem" is a fancy way of saying "the industry of making something when you don't make anything" or chip design/IP creation.

Re:Translation please (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42377741)

Tapeout has an archaic meaning. It probably used to mean when the layout database was copied to tape, to send for creating masks. Since we don't use tapes anymore, tapeout just refers they passed sign-off and signals the beginning of production. But my concern is what fab they are using that is ready to run production on these samsung ICs at 14nm? Getting a single test chip through is good, meaning that actual production is around the corner. But I think there will need to be more testing and someone will have to get 14nm into production.

Re:Translation please (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42377751)

Tape out a microprocessor = design the microprocessor in a CAD system, test and debug the design using simulators, and when you have enough confidence that the design works that you're willing to spend money putting it in real silicon, sending the CAD file (traditionally on magnetic tape, thus "tape-out") to the fabrication plant, usually for a quite small test run. Some weeks or months after tape-out you get some parts back from the fab, which you then start testing, after which you may find further bugs and do another fab run. Still, tape-out is a significant milestone in a chip development process.

Fabless ecosystem = your company (example: AMD, NVidia) designs chips with a CAD system but doesn't own any (ultra expensive) fab equipment. You pay another company (TSMC, GlobalFoundries ,or maybe Samsung) to do the fabrication. The fab company (aka silicon foundry) gets economies of scale by making chips for many designers. On the other hand, they add costs (since they have to make a profit) and decrease flexibility (they wlil usually not customize their fab processes for the sake of your circuits).

Analogy: you can be a magazine publisher by hiring writers, layout artists, photographers, etc.--the editorial side--without owning any actual printing presses. You instead pay a printing company to print your magazine after you've given them camera ready copy. Lots of small magazines work that way. The big guys (e.g. Time-Warner), not only produce content but own their own printing plants and it is hard to compete with them cost-wise. A high end chip fab is like a printing palnt except orders of magnitude more expensive. Intel is hard to compete with for obvious reasons.

Re:Translation please (1)

geoskd (321194) | about 2 years ago | (#42377807)

I'm very good at the English language but I have no idea what this means. How do you 'tape out' a processor? What's a 'fabless ecosystem'? (The rainforests are rather wonderful, I hear.)

Tape out [wikipedia.org] is an expression that ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit) designers use. It means to finalize a version and send it out to be manufactured. There is some disagreement where it came from, but it most likely referred to the fact that magnetic tapes were used to transfer the (largish) electronic design descriptions to the manufacturers site. These tapes were used because they were the only medium at the time that could store the entire files on one volume instead of having to split the data among volumes.

"Fabless ecosystem" refers to the lack of a "fab" or fabrication facility. There are two types of setups for designing and manufacturing integrated circuits. The first is the "classical" model where a design company designs and manufactures the chips themselves. The other type of model is one where two separate companies design and manufacture the chips. This is called fabless, since the designer does not have a fab themselves (and in theory are free to go with any of a number of fabs and or manufacturing methods). Being fabless has advantages and disadvantages. The main advantage is that your company does not have to eat all of the overhead of owning and operating a fab (Each one costs around the same as a modern aircraft carrier, and employs the same number of people). If you have limited production runs you don't have to pay the full overhead, but instead that cost is split among all of the customers of a given fab. It also allows you to switch between fabs if your current fab is not meeting your particular requirements (cost, failure rate, QA, whatever). The biggest disadvantage is that your company doesn't have any control over the fabrication process, so you have very limited say as to how they manufacture your parts. The fab is also free to manufacture parts for your competitors, which makes it very difficult to have significant performance differences between competitors. Intel maintains a large part of its performance edge by using proprietary fab techniques that other companies do not have access to.

-=Geoskd

Re:Translation please (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42377977)

A processor is designed using a programming language like Verilog [wikipedia.org] or VHDL [wikipedia.org] . These languages provide standard logic cell libraries that support floating-point, integer arithmetic and multiplication.

Whatever you can implement in C/C++ software, you can implement in hardware, with various optimizations like parallel processing, pipelining.
At the same time as the processor is being designed, verification tests are written to test every logic block. Tape-out is that special time at the end of the project when the complete system has been designed and all the verification tests pass. Then the designers don't have anything else to do. They just have to wait until the first chip dies are baked, packaged into resin and heatsinks, and mounted on test boards.

In the past, the whole directory system would be tarballed onto a tape drive and the package sent over by courier to the chip fab where the files would be compiled into silicon via a set of lithographic masks used in order to etch each layer of the chip [cbsistatic.com] .

Steve Jobs fans (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42377681)

Looks like all the Samsung fanbois here are also Steve Jobs fans, since he led the revolution they're all trying to claim now for themselves.
Congratulations, sheep.

Re:Steve Jobs fans (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42377839)

apple has never fabbed a chip in the entire history of the company, nor would they even begin to know how to, fucktard

So you're saying (1, Offtopic)

Andy Prough (2730467) | about 2 years ago | (#42377971)

Samsung has a bunch of ugly yachts chained to the dock in the Netherlands by the police for failure to pay?

Samsung fanbois here are also Steve Jobs fans, since he led the revolution they're all trying to claim now for themselves

Re:So you're saying (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42378299)

If Xerox had only done the right thing...

Continuous disclosure (4, Insightful)

brindafella (702231) | about 2 years ago | (#42377717)

One could think that this announcement of 14nm development is Samsung one-upping their competition.

Another interpretation is that companies need to exercise "continuous disclosure" in order to be taken seriously in the share markets and not fall foul of the market regulators which insist that companies reveal important information as soon as is practicable so that investors and possible investors get a true picture of the company's market worth. In most cases, a good-news story is a great way to have the market clamouring to invest, and so assists the company to raise the capital needed to get its developments to market.

It also does not hurt to rub the nose of the opposition.

Samsung (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42377771)

They are using all the right Apple-ly terms. Low power, fabless, ecosystem, etc.

Apple has filed a lawsuit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42377821)

Claiming that the invented the 14nm process and provided images of Steve Job's genitalia as evidence

Re:Apple has filed a lawsuit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42378511)

MOD PARENT UPPPPPPP!11!!! ROFL!!11 [slashdot.org] Haven't laughed so hard all day.

Can't wait for 14nm flash (2)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 2 years ago | (#42378767)

Then our SSDs will survive a whole SEVEN program/erase cycles.

Re:Can't wait for 14nm flash (1)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | about 2 years ago | (#42379987)

But it will have one bajillion cells, so you'd have plenty of backup cells to replace those. They'll be just like worm drives, but with a few erase cycles in them, like CD-RW.

Samsung at 14 nm, Intel at 22 nm (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about 2 years ago | (#42378989)

In last news [slashdot.org] we had on the topic, Intel was at 22 nm.

Re:Samsung at 14 nm, Intel at 22 nm (1)

hundredrabh (1531761) | about 2 years ago | (#42379201)

That was for SOC.
CPU's began earlier.

From (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivy_Bridge_%28microarchitecture%29) and (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/22_nanometer)
"On October 19, 2011, Intel CEO Paul Otellini confirmed that Ivy Bridge 22 nm processor volume production has already begun"

Re:Samsung at 14 nm, Intel at 22 nm (2)

ericloewe (2129490) | about 2 years ago | (#42380413)

Pretty big difference:

Intel is selling millions of processors made with a 22nm process right now.

Samsung just finished designing a processor that will enter prototyping soon/is being tested. Their process may have horrible yields, be too costly or have any number of problems. This "milestone" is akin to having the tech drawings of a car ready - it's hype until we see results.

Last I checked, most Samsung silicon was at 28nm, I think, with NAND flash at 23/22nm.

Its not just an A7 cpu core, it's a whole PDK@14nm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42380785)

FTFA (I know..)

Samsung, ARM, and additional ecosystem partners Cadence, Mentor, and Synopsys recently taped out a "full ARM Cortex-A7 processor" as well as a number of other test chips using the 14nm process. Samsung called the Cortex-A7 tape-out "a significant milestone for silicon manufacturing for the fabless ecosystem."
The partners have also made a 14nm process design kit (PDK) available to fabless chip design companies that license ARM designs. The PDK "includes design flows, routers and other design enablement features to support new device structures, local interconnects, and advanced routing rules," Samsung said.

I suspect that means things will begin to move more quickly for their other partners as well. A whole lot of fabless companies use designs from these people.

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