Will GlobalFoundries Inc. or some other manifestation of the oil-rich state of Abu Dhabi, be buying the chip R&D and business interests of IBM any time soon? And what would be the price?
Future Horizons Ltd. (Sevenoaks, England) has said it included the comment "We assume GlobalFoundries will purchase IBMís semiconductor division and that Hynix/Micron will buy up the remaining smaller memory firms," in the conclusions of a report prepared by Future Horizons and Decision SA for the European Commission on the future of 450-mm wafer processing in Europe.
The idea that GlobalFoundries Ė a foundry owned by an Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth vehicle Ė could buy significant chunk of American technology leadership is likely to be controversial.
When asked why he thought the move was a valid assumption, Future Horizons analyst Mike Bryant, said he had heard rumors that discussions are taking place from enough reliable sources to consider the outcome likely.
And the move would make sense in some ways. It is in-line with IBM's strategic retreat away from hardware and towards software and consultancy and GlobalFoundries looks like a natural inheritor of IBM chip interests in New York state.
Indeed IBM's role as the paternalistic overseer of the Common Platform Alliance on process technology, alongside collaborators GlobalFoundries and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., looks increasingly anachronistic.
It was over a decade ago that IBM established the model of sharing R&D costs to develop chip technology. IBM is still a manufacturer of chips at East Fishkill, New York, and contributes a great deal of advanced research to various semiconductor-related consortia and initiatives it is involved in. Since it started on the 90-nm node more than a decade ago it has fostered out a number of manufacturing processes and innovations including SOI. It has also been a regular source of presentations at leading conferences such as IEDM.
But IBM does not sell chips on the open market and since it began its semiconductor collaborations it has sold off its PC business to Lenovo, as a key part of its strategic transformation.
So why does IBM need to pay for research into manufacturing processes, extreme ultraviolet lithography, and 450-mm diameter wafers?
But come on PC business continues to shrink and reduce into a small profit market now a days, so there is no comparison on these 2 distinct business strategies.
Exiting PC was overdue IMHO, but giving up the jewels overseas, with all the national defense projects and other high profile business. I do not see Intel, or other USA interest passing this up.
PC business is a low tech labor intensive business and does not require much CAPEX. Semiconductor still an high tech business(diversified fields and skills) with lots of CAPEX. Anyone can assembly PCs but only a few can still fabricate semiconductor.
It doesn't make sense for IBM to sell its Fab. They can keep their proprietary design and Tech in house, and do not have to depend on a foundry for a supply & schedule of Tape outs.. They do not want a Qualcomm issue.
IBM Rev in 2011 was $107 Billion, spending 2-3 billion on research is not hard for them speacially when they pulled over $16 Billion in profit, some major Foundries, don't even have revenue of $16 Billion a year.
I agree IBM can afford it
But why spend $2 or $3 billion on chip manufacturing R&D and "suffer" a profit of $16 billion when you could forego the expense and have a profit of $18 or $19 billion?
Unless chip manufacturing technology is strategic to the company (and the country?) that is?
A lot of other vertically integrated companies, such as Philips and Siemens in Europe and now we are seeing Hitachi, NEC and Mitsubishi in Japan are made different choices.
While it is nice to say that IBM should put American interest first, it is too optimistic to think that they should have such a duty. After all, they are a business, and they would make decisions that would benefit them the most. I agree that it is controversial, but such things have been happening to many companies in America for years.
Jeanette - http://www.lyonessscamreview.com
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