GlobalFoundries puts rivals on notice, tips 20-nm process
9/1/2010 9:25 PM EDT
SANTA CLARA, Calif.—Despite a sudden and disturbing lull in the IC market, GlobalFoundries Inc. is moving full speed ahead with its aggressive silicon foundry strategy.
At its inaugural technology event here, GlobalFoundries also fired a warning shot and put its competitors on notice, namely TSMC, UMC and others. Upstart GlobalFoundries is seeking to move up the foundry ranks sooner than later, by planning to double its 300-mm capacity over the next two years, entering new markets like MEMS and analog, and accelerating its leading-edge process development efforts.
As part of those efforts, the company disclosed plans to devise a 20-nm process and rolled out a new, high-end 28-nm offering. It also announced an intellectual property (IP) deal with ARM Holdings plc and said it is developing technology to enable 3-D chips based on through-silicon-vias (TSVs).
Like its rivals, GlobalFoundries' capacity is tight—and business remains strong—despite a sudden slowdown in select chip markets. The PC market is seeing a slowdown, impacting many foundry customers like AMD, Nvidia, among others. Intel, Micron and others are impacted as well.
However, business is still "very strong," said Doug Grose, chief executive of privately-held GlobalFoundries, in a brief interview with EE Times, at the company's technology here. "I think it will be strong in 2011."
GlobalFoundries appears to be moving in the right direction. Jim Feldhan, president of Semico Research Corp., said he is impressed with GlobalFoundries' early efforts since its inception last year. "They have a very aggressive roadmap," he said, "but now have to execute" to overtake some of the competition.
Execution is a key for GlobalFoundries. While the company has the pieces in place to become a contender, it must make good on its ambitious promises, integrate a recent and huge acquisition, and remain nimble in the competitive foundry front.
In 2009, the chip-manufacturing arm from Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) was spun off into a new foundry company. The foundry spinoff, GlobalFoundries, is a joint venture between AMD and Abu Dhabi's Advanced Technology Investment Co. (ATIC).
ATIC plans to boost its stake in GlobalFoundries from about 68 percent to 70 percent. Over time, ATIC will take the entire stake in GlobalFoundries from AMD.
In September, ATIC agreed to acquire Singapore-based Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. for a total of $3.9 billion. Chartered is being folded into GlobalFoundries.