GlobalFoundries has won approval for plans to build a second wafer fab at the Luther Forest Technology Campus in Saratoga County, New York, according to a local report.
No timetable has been disclosed for what GlobalFoundries is calling Fab 8.2. How rapid that timetable could now be may depend on whether the foundry can sign up Apple and other major fabless chip companies as high-volume customers.
The plan to build the chip facility was first mentioned by GlobalFoundries CEO Ajit Manoocha in January 2013 (see Reports: Globalfoundries hints at $10-bn fab location), but according to a recent Business Review report, the cost has escalated from $10 billion in January to "up to $14.7 billion."
An application from GlobalFoundries to build a fab received unanimous approval from Malta's town board last week despite concerns over the traffic congestion construction would cause and the impact on utility resources including water, the report said.
The plant would occupy 575,000 square feet and is expected to nearly triple GlobalFoundries' payroll in the region to 6,700. Fab 8.1, which is up and running, is expected to employ more than 2,000 people when fully facilitized and loaded.
Fab 8.1 during construction in Luther Forest Technology Campus.
There is not yet any word from GlobalFoundries about the start of construction of Fab 8.2 or how soon it could be producing chips. The Business Review report quoted a GlobalFoundries spokesman saying that the plant would be built if GlobalFoundries needs to expand production.
That could depend on whether Apple, which is reported to be in discussions with multiple foundries over the supply of its applications processors, will include GlobalFoundries in its supply chain. Fab 8.2 could be in favor because Apple is reported to have been interested in bringing some parts of its supply chain back to the United States. (See: Why GlobalFoundries Should Appeal to Apple.)
Apple as a large and long-term customer could also help with funding the fab. GlobalFoundries is a private company controlled by an owner, Advanced Technology Investment Company (ATIC), which is a financial vehicle of the Abu Dhabi government. GlobalFoundries is planning for an initial public offering (IPO) of shares, but this could also mean that it is unlikely to get any more multibillion-dollar investments from Abu Dhabi. An IPO and major payments from customers is therefore likely to be a means of funding the completion of Fab 8.2.