AMD's Phaseout of 45nm Phenoms Imminent After Manufacturing Issues
12/5/2011 by: Marcus Pollice
Back in June, Turkish website Donamimhaber circulated roadmaps that indicated a phase out of the 45nm Phenom II processors by AMD at the end of this year. Back then the Bulldozer CPU was expected to be launched in the June/July timeframe, which didn't happen as we know.
Albeit the AMD FX line wasn't very well received by reviewers, the customers obviously liked the part and the 45nm Phenom II CPUs are now being phased out, as sources from distributors indicated.
We did a quick check at various pricing engines. In Europe the consequences of the imminent phase-out can already be seen in the form of slightly higher prices for most models (in the realm of 5-10%). This is evidenced by the pricing history shown on Geizhals.at, largest price searching engine in Europe. In the US prices appear to be mostly stable, but we could detect a subtle rise in average prices via pricegrabber.com there too. For now the CPUs appear to be in stock, so if you plan to upgrade an AM2+/AM3 system with one of those models, now would be the time to get one.
According to Nordic Hardware, distributors are still supplied with Phenom II X4 960T CPUs. These are based on the Zosma core, which is a Thuban die with two cores disabled. They are not fused off, so it is possible to unlock them. There is, however, no guarantee that these work correctly, since AMD favorably selects partially defective die for the reduced core variation of Thuban.
As for the reasoning behind this is quite understandable from AMDs perspective. With the launch of Llano and the various descendants of the Bulldozer architecture, they basically replaced their lineup top to bottom with 32nm chips. As we have reported on numerous occasions, 32nm runs all but fine at GlobalFoundries. In the last earnings call AMD had to admit lower margins due to 45nm supply constraints - as GlobalFoundries winds down the 45nm process and is working hard on fixing all the issues in the suceeding 32nm process.
Since all their 45nm and 32nm are produced in the same Fab 1 in Dresden, there are tradeoffs to be made that ultimately affect both lines adversely. AMD has recounted repeatedly that they don't put up with the current situation anymore. We can only assume that the phase-out of the 45nm product lines may be one of the consequences of those manufacturing struggles. After all, especially Llano is in high demand which AMD struggles hard to meet. On top of that, there is need for additional 32nm capacity once Trinity enters volume production. Trinity is said to be launched early in 2012.
For customers it is a less than optimal outcome, since the 45nm products still compared favorably against AMD FX or the A-series APUs if you watch out for good deals but don't need an integrated GPU. Let's hope it allows AMD to churn out more of their 32nm products and subsequently improve the quality of those.
AMD, Advanced Micro Devices, FX, FX CPU, Phenom, Phenom II, Athlon 64, Athlon II, Athlon 64 II, Geizhals.at, Geizhals, Nordic Hardware, Donanimhaber, AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, Thuban, Zosma, Zambezi, Llano, Lynx, GlobalFoundries
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