Nvidia has signed a three-year chip-making agreement with IBM. The deal means that TSMC is no longer the graphics company's only foundry partner.
IBM will start production this summer, punching out GeForce FX parts at 0.13 micron on 300mm wafers at its East Fishkill plant. The period of the agreement will allow Nvidia to utilise IBM's 90nm process once it becomes commercially viable. IBM will start producing its first 90nm parts later this year.
Nvidia is likely to split the three-chip GeForce FX line between TSMC and IBM on a product-by-product basis.
Nvidia was keen to play down any suggestion that it was unhappy with TSMC's 0.13 micron work - held by some observers to be the reason for the delayed introduction of the GeForce FX 5800.
Indeed, today, the day after the IBM announcement, Nvidia and TSMC put out a release "reaffirming" the relationship between the two companies. Clearly someone has an eye on TSMC's share price.
"We are going to continue to engage in that [TSMC] relationship to the fullest extent possible," an Nvidia spokesman said yesterday, cited by EE Times. Nvidia may not be parting company with TSMC, but that statement isn't exactly a ringing endorsement either - the statement implies there is a limit to what TSMC can do for Nvida.
TSMC has produced around 200 million graphics chips for Nvidia during the last five years, and done rather nicely out of it. Now it will be losing revenue to IBM. It can't be happy about that. ®