TSMC is doing something that is sure to make AMD and Nvidia grumble a lot. Since the reported that Apple had taped out CPUs at TSMC, there has been the looming question of capacity. Apple uses a lot of chips, and they are not exactly small chips either. TSMC has limited capacity on their cutting edge processes, and if you depend on that, things can be a little problematic at times. Apple supplier contract demands first priority on everything, and are pretty ruthless negotiating every detail. This is the long way of saying everyone else but Apple will lose out when there is a shortage.
Sources also say that TSMC’s yields on 28nm are not all that great. While we don’t know if the contracts with Apple specify a minimum number of wafers or minimum good die, either way, the initial guesstimates are unlikely to match the parts coming out. AMD and Nvidia seem to want 28nm wafers as well, and in high volumes. They may not need quite as many as Big White, but they need a lot, and it is unlikely that TSMC has that many to offer. To lessen demand, TSMC came up with a cunning plan, raise prices to make the wafers less attractive. Either that or just rake in more cash.
In the end, we hear that prices for 28nm products just went up by somewhere between 15-25%. If 28nm wafers cost about $5000, this is around a $1000+ bump, which will surely make GPU makers very unhappy. The short story is that Nvidia is looking to capitalize on 28nm as a cost down measure for laptop chips, AMD less so. Given the margins on low end products, one has to wonder if this move just made initial profits on the new line just dissappear.