SAN FRANCISCO--The fabless/foundry model may have its issues, but it’s a long way from being dead, said Globalfoundries CEO Ajit Manocha, speaking at the International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM) here this week (Dec. 11).
Manocha dismissed critics who claim the fabless model is on its way to extinction, claiming instead that the foundry model is seeing huge growth rates and continuing to outpace other chip industry segments.
Indeed, it is integrated device manufacturers (IDMs), Manocha countered, who should be wary of the future. The integrated model was, he asserted, is a dead end.
While Manocha admitted the impact of mobility had certainly put pressure on the foundry model, forcing his company to pick up the pace, the CEO said Globalfoundries is poised to move to the next round of process technology nodes, even as other big foundry players drop off.
“Only four players have capabilities to offer leading edge technologies beyond 28 nm,” he said, citing, Intel, Samsung, TSMC and Globalfoundries. This, he said, made the foundry market opportunity all the more compelling and concentrated at the leading edge, with a compound annual growth rate of some 37 percent in the next three years. In terms of monetary value, Manocha said the leading edge now represented a $27.5 billion opportunity.
That’s not to say there aren't challenges to keep Manocha awake at night. He said they can be divided into technical and economic challenges. Among the technical challenges, Manocha cited achieving the required power density for optimum battery life, at a low cost, while ensuring the technology remained reliable and interconnects held up. He also cited retaining engineering talent and collaboration with clients at the earliest design stages.
On the economic side, compressed product cycles along with capacity, design and manufacturing costs are among the geographic risks affecting supply, IP and competition.