GlobalFoundries Details Plans For 2011 And Beyond

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On September 1, GlobalFoundries played host to the first annual Global Technology Conference (GTC for short). While there were a fair number of partner presentations on display, the conference was primarily driven by GlobalFoundries executives and announcements. When we spoke to GlobalFoundries in March we remarked on the company's aggressive roadmap; we were curious to see if the company would still be on track six months later.

Based on comments made by company CEO Doug Grose, GlobalFoundries is on track to realize some $4 billion in revenue for the year 2010 and plans to double its size within two years (it's unclear if this refers to revenue, wafer starts, or customer base). The company's long-term plans for Charter semiconductor have been clarified—despite the age of certain Chartered factories, many of them are well-tuned and optimized for their existing production lines. GF intends to ramp different nodes and technologies at its three international locations, as detailed below:

Chartered is capable of up to 210,000 200mm wafer starts per month (split across five fabs) and 50,000 300mm / 65nm wafer starts per month. These process nodes might seem old to PC enthusiasts, but they still account for an enormous amount of revenue—in Q2 2010, the majority of TSMC's revenue (55 percent) came from its 150+ nm nodes (28 percent) and its 65nm/55nm node (27 percent). At present, Chartered's Fab 7 produces some 40nm tech; this capacity will be transferred to Dresden. Fab 7 will be dedicated to 65/55nm production on 300mm wafers, and will ramp up to the 50,000 WPM (wafers per month) we mentioned earlier.

At Dresden, the fabs GlobalFoundries inherited from AMD are both slated for overhauls and expansions of their own. GlobalFoundries intends to boost the total output of the two fabs up to 80,000 WPM, up from an original 50K. Both facilities will be dedicated to sub-45nm production with a near-term focus on scaling both 32nm SOI and 28nm bulk silicon. Company executives dropped hints that there's some very early work on 22/20nm technology also being done at Dresden, but the bulk of that production will likely be handled at Fab 8 in New York.

Speaking of Fab 8, the foundry's product target has nearly doubled from 35,000 to 60,000 WPM. This additional capacity carries a cost; Fab 8 was originally expected to ship wafers for revenue in 2011 with full production in 2012. Now those dates have been pushed back a year, shipments will begin in 2012, with full production in 2013. Fab 8 will still launch using a 28nm process and 300nm wafers, but we expect Fab 8 to lead the company in 20/22nm production as those processes come online.

The company's general roadmap through 2010.

GlobalFoundries' long term goal is to provide potential customers with an array of processing nodes and technologies while simultaneously offering cross-foundry standardization. The Common Platform Alliance isn't new, but it was a major topic of conversation at GTC 2010. On the manufacturing side of things, the CPA is a joint agreement between Samsung, IBM, and GlobalFoundries. The three companies have agreed to deploy compatible bulk CMOS technology at their various facilities and to collaborate on semiconductor research.

According to GF, foundry customers benefit from this relationship in several ways. First, it offers synchronized production at multiple locations, thus smoothing out the capacity restrictions that might occur at any single fab. Second, it allows vendors to build a single design in multiple locations. This isn't the norm—if Company X wants to change from UMC to TSMC, its microcontroller will likely need to be re-optimized. This is true even if the process technology and wafer size are held constant. In the wake of TSMC's 40nm woes, customers are evidently interested in exploring more flexible manufacturing options, not to mention contract terms that don't leave them at the mercy of a single foundry.

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