AUSTIN, Texas I am an American living here in Austin Texas where I have spent the last 25 years working in the semiconductor industry. The 12 years up to February 2009 were spent working at Applied Materials as an account manager. For most of my career I was involved with AMD and Spansion.
What am I, and many others like me, doing here? We are adapting and moving on with our careers in the aftermath of "grand plans" such as the latest one described by Jim Doran in his article GlobalFoundries: We are building on Dresden.
Memo from Austin to Dresden: Despite the sunny, upbeat and cheerleader-like message from Jim, as you well know your career in Dresden is terminal.
We in Austin are now in the final stages of this self-same predicament as our case has been terminal since the late 1990s when AMD announced Dresden would be the geographical focus for its next grand plan. Many of you in Dresden know this well as you spent between six months and a year here in Austin, while the first 200-mm wafer fab was being built in Dresden. And during that time you came to realize that AMD had grown a manufacturing presence in Austin since the late 1970s, eventually with four fabs operating in Austin. But of course, along came the next "grand plan" despite all the great successes achieved over the previous 20 years.
GlobalFoundries is building its next wafer fab in Albany, New York state, at a cost of $4.5 billion. It is therefore most unlikely that the company will ever expand on or renew what is has in Dresden. The inevitable conclusion must therefore be that the facility in Dresden is entering wind-down mode. It may take a few years or even a decade for that process to complete but it is winding down, and that is a more somber perspective than the upbeat one given by Jim Doran.
Austin was to Dresden as Dresden will now be to Albany.
Jim makes several valid points as to why he thinks AMD has had such success there in Dresden, but perhaps the dots are not correctly connected in order to provide a complete picture. The reunification of Germany was the key. The severe unemployment found in the former East Germany coupled with a very well educated population, led to the desperation of the German government to provide incentives to some company willing to locate something there. I offer those as additional dots to clarify the picture relative to the workforce and for AMD to consistently find access to capital to build in Dresden.
I do question Jim's statements regarding the workforce in Dresden versus the United States and the need for this kind of talent to compete with Intel.
The David versus Goliath mantra has gotten quite old. The fact of the matter is that Goliath in this case has had, has now and plans to have in the future, great manufacturing success in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Phoenix, Arizona and Portland, Oregon. I submit that the large gap between AMD/GlobalFoundries and Intel has more to do with capability of the top leadership, their long-term vision and execution rather than where the companies choose to build factories and the local technical talent found there.
So it is for you in Dresden and Albany. The situation you find yourselves in today with AMD/GlobalFoundries has a well-known history. And if Austin, Texas is not enough of a history lesson, you will find additional dots to connect in Sunnyvale, California and Aizu, Japan. Upon full review my guess is that you in Dresden will perceive the correct picture despite any future cheerleading that will undoubtedly be coming your way. I think that is the case because you are indeed smart and talented people.