AMD, nVidia 28nm GPUs: no mass availability until 2012

While some expected to see a few 28nm graphics chips available for consumers to buy before the end of 2011, it looks like there won't be much in the way of bulk shipments of the die-shrunk hardware until 2012.

Xbit reported just a couple of weeks ago that TSMC had begun production of 28nm chips for AMD and nVidia, but it's likely that this process will take a few months at least to generate decent quantities of usable hardware.

AMD and nVidia's next-generation GPUs are expected to bring performance jumps, as well as the advantages of a die shrink - lower wattage per gigaflop and improved thermal dynamics - but there's little information available at the moment as to how extensive these will be.

Also leaping on the 28nm bandwagon is Qualcomm, which showed off its new S4 series of chips just a few weeks ago.

AMD 28nm hardware has been code-named 'Southern Island' , which nVidia's is called 'Kepler'. And while consumers are likely to be as excited as ever for the new generation of GPUs, reports have been circulating that suggest the jump to 28nm might be a little too soon - and that it's certainly a brave move.

The timing isn't the greatest, either. While a Christmas launch of new hardware isn't a bad idea, if there's a shortage of parts it's unlikely that everyone will get the GPU they want. If it takes until early the New Year for availability to become widespread, sales might not be as strong in this traditionally cash-strapped part of the year.