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Issues around chip packaging continue to cause problems for AI chip supply. This is what TSMC chief Mark Liu has claimed in a recent interview with Nikkei Asia. As a result, TSMC is now having problems supplying Nvidia A100 and H100 AI processors, for example.

The supply of AI processors will remain curdled for the next 18 months, Liu said. The reason for this is that the chip industry cannot currently supply the necessary connection technology for chip components or “dies” in sufficient quantities.

CoWos technology

Processors today increasingly consist of several components. These parts, often dubbed ‘chiplets’, each account for a particular functionality of a processor. The individual components are produced separately and later joined together to form a single processor. An example of this can be found in AMD’s Zen architecture design of recent years.

The interconnection technology most often used to connect the individual chip components is CoWos. This technology provides a channel of microscale electrical wires that the various processor components use for high-speed data flows between them. This channel is referred to as the interposer.

The CoWos technology is placed under the various, up to 12, components during the processor manufacturing process, forming the base layer of the complete processor.

Problems with Nvidia manufacturing

Precisely the demand for this technology has tripled in the past year, Liu argues. Therefore, it is difficult for a chip manufacturer like TSMC, which manufactures processors for other parties, to keep up with customer orders.

Ultimately, this in turn leads to delays in delivering chips. In particular, TSMC is now struggling to keep up with demand for customer Nvidia’s AI processors. That includes that vendor’s coveted H100, as well as A100 AI processors. TSMC is the exclusive manufacturer of the Nvidia GPUs for AI solutions and applications.

TSMC is trying to solve production problems by building more production capacity in Taiwan and investing in improved CoWos technology.

Also read: TSMC, Bosch, Infineon and NXP open European chip factory