Nvidia is sampling 28nm ICs made by Samsung, according to DigiTimes, as long-term TSMC customers like Nvidia and Qualcomm look for more 28nm capacity outside TSMC.
Demand for 28nm chips is so strong that Qualcomm is reported to have approached both UMC and Globalfoundries for 28nm fab.
DigiTimes speculates that the possibility of worse-than-expected 28nm yields which would impact TSMC’s gross margin, has induced TSMC to limit 28nm availability to customers.
This, it is reported, is unlikely to change until Q1 2013, when new capacity coming on-line may ease capacity constraints.
It is reported that orders for 28nm wafers in Q1 2012 were 5x more than those for Q4 2011.
Next week TSMC is expected to announce an upwards revision of its 2012 capex.