According to Noonen, Globalfoundries in the fourth quarter surpassed United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC) and is now the second-largest pure play foundry in the world, behind TSMC. "We anticipate that we won't look back on that and that we will sustain it in 2012," he said.
The claim to the No. 2 position in pure play foundry is a difficult one to verify, since Globalfoundries is a privately held company that doesn't report quarterly financials. For all of 2011, Globalfoundries was ranked as the No. 3 foundry by market research firm IC Insights Inc., with sales of $3.58 billion, trailing UMC's $3.76 billion and TSMC's $14.6 billion.
On the analyst conference call last week, Siefert said Globalfoundries' yield performance at 28-nm has improved significantly since the issue came to a head last summer. This, Seifert said, gave AMD the confidence to enter the amended supply agreement, which is structured as a fixed-price, "take or pay" agreement as opposed to the previous agreement, where AMD paid only for good die. "We both believe that yields have progressed to a degree and maturity that we can make this transition," Seifert said.
Noonen said Globalfoundries expects to have its 28-nm process in volume production later this year. The company has already processed about 40 customer test chips at 28-nm, he said. "Making that move to 28-nm wasn't nearly the same degree of difficulty and hurdle that going to 32-nm was," he said. "Going from 32- to 28-nm, there are a lot more process steps in common."