Friday morning dawned bright and fair as a collection of journalists stumbled out of a Dresden city center hotel ready to be bussed to GlobalFoundries' Fab 1 complex on the outskirts of the city. Down one narrow street could be spied the famous Frauenkirche (Church of our Lady).
Frauenkirche from Salzgasse, Dresden
This beautiful church was built in the 18th century but was destroyed in the firebombing of Dresden during World War II. It's reconstruction, finally completed in 2005 was done as a symbol of reconciliation.
After a 20 minute drive we arrived at GlobalFoundries Fab 1 complex
Approach to GlobalFoundries' Fab 1 complex.
Ground was broken for the site in 1996 and the first 200-mm wafer manufacturing cleanroom inaugurated in 1999. That first cleanroom was later emptied of equipment and re-equiped with 300-mm chipmaking equipment. The fab now only processes 300-mm diameter wafers.
So could it be retrofitted for 450-mm wafers one day? That would certainly prevent the site becoming a "sunset wafer fab" and prevent all the energy and excitement moving across to GlobalFoundries' Fab 8 in New York state.
GF has postponed fab plans in Abu Dhabi, where ATIC (their prime investor and stakeholder) is based. My guess is that would take maybe another 5-8 years depending on GF profits and global semiconductor economy.
Doubt any expansion plans in India makes sense. In India: Design, yes, semi manufacturing? There is no ecosystem, no local technicians, and infra is a disaster. So I dont think that makes any sense whatsoever.
GF is losing a lead customer AMD at 28nm to TSMC and we have not heard that anyone iso back-filling the Dresden fab yet! As foundry sales cycle is long and technology bring-ups are tedious, it will be a while when GF can be back on track if they can....
I had heard that GF has put the expansion in Germany on hold following the bad economic conditions in Europe and GF's own financial problems. So, this visit is just a pre-committed journalist's visit or GF is back on track?
The bad news Sufia is that when I asked GlobalFoundries people about whether stories that linked the company to the Indian fab plan process they said they have no idea where these stories come from.
As to the power supply issue, I don't think that is a problem. In Dresden GlobalFoundries runs its own power station to run the plant and puts the excess electricity it produces into the German grid.
I can imagine the same set-up could be created in India.
However, access to enormous volumes of water might be an issue.
Great pictures of the inside of a fab, Peter. Looking at this, reminds me back to the plant that Flextronics had set up here ( it was not a fab but am OEM unit and that was one of the firsts we had in the Indian southern city of Chennai. ANd, that took a long time to build too, to the necessary specs. And, when we in India keep talking about setting up a fab, I can just about imagine the time it is going to take and will we ever be able to maintain the quality. Right from clean water to stable electricity, there is a problem in every city ( with 1-2 hr power cuts in every city even today).. and we talk about setting a world class fab. Sure,it is a dream and we like to dream big but... all players, including the government have to really pull it off, in a big way and I mean really big way. Lets wait and see. These pictures set me thinking how we, in India can do it.. and the operative word is when.