Archive for the ‘ GlobalFoundries ’ Category

ATIC takes control of GlobalFoundries

ATIC takes control of GlobalFoundries.

As part of a new and complex transaction, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) has reduced its stake in GlobalFoundries Inc. from about 30 percent to 14 percent. SAN JOSE, Calif. – As part of a new and complex transaction, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) has reduced its stake in GlobalFoundries Inc. from about 30 percent to 14 percent.

In the deal, Abu Dhabi’s Advanced Technology Investment Co. (ATIC) now owns 86 percent of GlobalFoundries, a U.S.-based silicon foundry vendor. Previously, ATIC owned 70 percent. The ATIC is a specialist investment company created by the Government of Abu Dhabi to focus on investments in the advanced technology sector. ATIC’s sole shareholder is the Government of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

In 2009, the chip-manufacturing arm from AMD was spun off into a new foundry company. The foundry spinoff, GlobalFoundries, had been a joint venture between AMD and Abu Dhabi’s ATIC. At the time, AMD moved to become a fabless chip maker.

ATIC had planned to boost its stake in GlobalFoundries from about 68 percent to 70 percent. Over time, ATIC is supposed to 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 has been folded into GlobalFoundries.

Then, on Dec. 27, 2010, ATIC said that it contributed all of the outstanding ordinary shares of GlobalFoundries Singapore Pte. Ltd., a private limited company organized in Singapore (formerly Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing Ltd.) to Globalfoundries Inc., in exchange for 2,808,981 newly issued shares of GF Class A Preferred Shares.

As of the closing of the contribution, AMD’s ownership of GlobalFoundries is now approximately 14 percent. AMD’s processors are made on a foundry basis by  GlobalFoundries. Some of AMD’s chips are made by TSMC and others. By reducing its stake in GlobalFoundries, AMD is free to expand its ties with TSMC and others.

Despite a sudden and disturbing lull in the IC market, GlobalFoundries is moving full speed ahead with its aggressive silicon foundry strategy. As part of those efforts, the company recently 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).

ATMC plans to spend up to $7 billion to build a semiconductor fab in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates,


ATIC cash draws chip research to Abu Dhabi

ATIC cash draws chip research to Abu Dhabi.

LONDON – The Semiconductor Research Corp. (SRC) has announced it is extending its university research partnership to serve the needs of technology ecosystem in Abu Dhabi. Under the agreement SRC member companies will conduct research in Abu Dhabi, sponsored by the Advanced Technology Investment Company (ATIC).

Abu Dhabi is becoming a significant player in the semiconductor industry through its majority ownership and funding of foundry GlobalFoundries Inc. (Milpitas, Calif.) and it has previously stated its intention to bring semiconductor manufacturing to the emirate. The Advanced Technology Investment Company (ATIC), the parent of GlobalFoundries, was created in 2008 as a technology investment company wholly-owned by the government of Abu Dhabi.

Under the terms of the partnership ATIC will sponsor university research in Abu Dhabi focused on low-power microelectronic applications. As part of the agreement, SRC and its member companies will increase their research activities in Abu Dhabi in partnership with key Abu Dhabi education institutions. The announcement follows a conference co-hosted by SRC and ATIC in Abu Dhabi – the MEES Forum – that was focused on the development of minimum-energy electronic systems.

The value of the sponsorship and the period over which it would be offered were not disclosed by SRC or ATIC.

“For almost 30 years, the semiconductor industry has been sponsoring precompetitive basic research at universities,” said SRC president Larry Sumney, in a statement. “As the semiconductor industry has expanded globally, the sponsorship of basic research has spread beyond U.S. borders to Europe and Asia. Now that the semiconductor industry is active in the Middle East, it is natural for SRC to establish a relationship with ATIC in Abu Dhabi.”

“The development of Abu Dhabi as a hub for leading-edge semiconductor capabilities, research and development is enabling the emirate to realize its vision to diversify its economy away from dependency on oil and gas,” said Sami Issa, ATIC’s executive director responsible for Abu Dhabi ecosystem development, in the same statement. “ATIC is working on developing an R&D ecosystem for advanced technology, and our partnership with SRC is a definitive step in this direction.”

Report: ATIC plans $7B chip fab in Abu Dhabi

Report: ATIC plans $7B chip fab in Abu Dhabi.

ATIC, the majority investor in Globalfoundries, plans to spend up to $7 billion to build a semiconductor fab in Abu Dhabi, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. SAN FRANCISCO—Advanced Technology Investment Co., the majority investor in Globalfoundries Inc., plans to spend up to $7 billion to build a semiconductor fab in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.

The story, based on an interview with ATIC CEO Ibrahim Ajami, says Ajami also said ATIC is open to acquisitions outside of the semiconductor foundry sector to strengthen its position in the chip business.

Ajami told The Journal that ATIC has targeted 2014 or 2015 to ramp up a 300-mm fab in Abu Dhabi, which would be operated by Globalfoundries.

Globalfoundries, which was formed in 2009 through the spinoff of Advanced Micro Devices Inc.’s manufacturing capabilities, operates seven fabs, including former AMD fabs based in Germany and several Singapore fabs, which were previously operated by Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing Pte., which it acquired in early 2010. The company is also building a 300-mm fab in upstate New York.

Globalfoundries, bolstered by the deep pockets of ATIC, has quickly emerged to pose a technology and capacity challenge to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., the dominant player in the foundry market.

GlobalFoundries puts rivals on notice, tips 20-nm process

GlobalFoundries puts rivals on notice, tips 20-nm process.

Despite a sudden lull in the IC market, GlobalFoundries is moving full speed ahead with its aggressive silicon foundry strategy, putting competitors on notice and tipping a 20-nm technology node at its inaugural technology conference. 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.

Fighting on two fronts
In simple terms, GlobalFoundries is fighting on two fronts. It is devising silicon-on-insulator (SOI) processes for AMD, which competes with mighty Intel Corp. On the other front, GlobalFoundries is developing  foundry-generic bulk processes to compete against TSMC, UMC, SMIC and others.

Last year, TSMC remained the world’s largest foundry, followed in order by UMC, Chartered, SMIC and GlobalFoundries, according to IC Insights Inc. In 2009, GlobalFoundries had sales of $1.065 billion, while Chartered had sales $1.540 billion, according to the firm.

In 2010, most experts expect GlobalFoundries to leapfrog SMIC and UMC in sales to become the world’s second largest foundry, behind TSMC.  SMIC and UMC are quickly falling behind the leaders in technology.

Both SMIC and UMC are now becoming the “fast followers” in the foundry business. But over time, SMIC and UMC may end up becoming takeover targets, according to observers.

Another leading-edge vendor, IBM Corp., may divest its semiconductor and foundry operations in the distant future, some have speculated.  Some believe GlobalFoundries will likely buy IBM’s chip unit.

In the long run, the leading-edge foundry market could have three strong competitors: TSMC, GlobalFoundries and South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. GlobalFoundries poses a threat to TSMC in the leading-edge foundry market and deep-pocketed Samsung is pouring millions of dollars into its foundry business.

The dynamics between GlobalFoundries and Samsung are worth watching. IBM, GlobalFoundries, Renesas, Samsung, ST, Toshiba and others are part of IBM’s technology alliance.

One day, a rift could emerge between GlobalFoundries and Samsung. “On one hand, we compete with” Samsung, Grose said. “On the other hand, we cooperate with them.”
In any case, there is a capital spending race between GlobalFoundries, TSMC and Samsung.  TSMC has raised its capital spending to $5.9 billion in 2010.
GlobalFoundries is holding to its previous plan to spend $2.6-to-$2.8 billion in 2010, according to Grose.

No major surprises on process roadmap
Meanwhile, at its technology event, GlobalFoundries outlined its process roadmap, but there were no major surprises on that front, said Dean Freeman, an analyst with Gartner Inc. “They are on track” in terms of their process roadmap, he said.

Perhaps the only surprise was the disclosure of a new 20-nm process on the roadmap. GlobalFoundries declined to elaborate on the 20-nm technology, nor would it discuss the timetable for delivery.

Regarding its process roadmap, GlobalFoundries is more aggressive than most had thought. For example, on the processor side of the business, where it serves AMD, GlobalFoundries’ roadmap “has been the most aggressive it has ever been,” said Doug Freedman, an analyst from Gleacher & Co.

At present, GlobalFoundries has been ramping up 65-nm (and above) processes at Chartered’s Fab 7 facility in Singapore. The Fab 7 facility will ramp “a little bit” of the company’s 40-nm process, Grose said.

GlobalFoundries’ Fab 1 facility in Dresden, Germany, will become the high-volume fab for the company’s 45- and 40-nm processes.  That fab is ramping to 80,000 wafers a month in the facility.

Within the fab, the company is shipping a 40-nm bulk process, based on a low power offering. The Dresden fab is also offering a 45-nm SOI process, mainly for AMD’s processors. By the first half of 2011, GlobalFoundries will bring up a 32-nm SOI with its initial high-k/metal-gate (HKMG) scheme. The 32-nm process is also tuned for AMD’s processors.

Surprisingly, even before 32-nm, GlobalFoundries will tape out a 28-nm bulk CMOS process with HKMG. The 28-nm process, which will initially be a high-performance offering, is expected to tape out by the end of 2010. Both 32- and 28-m HKMG offerings are based on a gate-first scheme.

At the event, the company announced the addition of a new technology offering based on its 28-nm HKMG technology. Scheduled to begin risk production in Q4 2011, the 28-nm High Performance Plus (HPP) technology provides a performance boost of as much as 10 percent over the company’s current 28nm High Performance (HP) offering.

The Dresden fab is starting work to help develop 22-nm CMOS process and will run the process in volume. It is not clear whether the 22-nm will include a departure from the gate-first HKMG technology.

In the future, Fab 1 will also become the home of a new 20-nm pilot line. GlobalFoundries’ wafer fab under construction in New York state, Fab 8, would run the 22-nm production and more advanced nodes.

Construction for Fab 8 started in July of 2009. The fab will have 60,000 wafer starts per month once it goes into full production. Production is expected to go online in 2012.

With risk production set to begin in the second half of 2012, the company is well on its way to delivering 22- and 20-nm technology to customers for product introduction in 2013. The 20-nm technology offerings will come in two varieties: a High Performance (HP) technology designed for wired applications such as servers and media processors, and a 20-nm Super Low Power (SLP) technology designed for power-sensitive mobile applications. – Singapore seeks to bolster presence in high-tech – Singapore seeks to bolster presence in high-tech.

SAN FRANCISCO—When Abu Dhabi’s Advanced Technology Investment Co. earlier this year bought Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd., Singapore’s biggest chip foundry, and folded it into GlobalFoundries Inc., some saw it as a blow to Singapore’s microelectronics industry.

Damian Chan

But not Damian Chan, director of electronics for Singapore’s Economic Development Board (EDB). In a recent interview with EE Times, Chan said it doesn’t matter to the EDB whether Singapore’s wafer fabs are locally owned or under the control of companies headquartered in other countries, as long as they are building chips on the island nation.

“I think the acquisition of Chartered by Global Foundries was good because it will give GlobalFoundries access to a larger customer base and it also makes [the former Chartered fabs in Singapore] financially stronger,” Chan said.

According to Chan, Singapore currently has 14 wafer fabs. Of these, four are 300-mm facilities, while most of the rest are 200-mm fabs, he said.

And Singapore’s EDB would like to add more. According to Chan, Singapore has the talent pool to support more chip manufacturing facilities. The country wants to attract more fabless chip companies to set up operations there, too.

Chan said Singapore views itself as a hub for high-tech development and R&D. Many companies consider Singapore their headquarters in the all important market of Asia, he said.

EE Times’ interview with Chan touched on a number of topics, including future directions for the island’s electronics industry and competition with China and other countries for attracting tech investment. The following is an excerpted, edited version of the interview.

EE Times: Singapore has a very excellent research institute, the Institute of Microelectronics. With the sale of Chartered to Global Foundries, will that institute’s research go in new directions like nanoelectronics, renewable energy, MEMs and printed electronics?

Damian Chan: First, to set the record straight, we are not deemphasizing microelectronics. We are continuing to grow and gain market share over the past eight years [in semiconductor manufacturing relative to the rest of the world]. And we feel that we will continue to do so.

Microelectronics obviously is a pretty broad space. Rather than looking at leading-edge semiconductor processing technology, like 28-nm and then 22-, they are looking at extending the number of applications. So they are focusing a lot on areas such as MEMs, silicon photonics and bioelectronics. They have strong capabilities in areas like packaging, which of course can be applied across these different areas.

Singapore has 14 fabs. Four are 12-inch fabs, and most of the rest are 8-inch fabs, except for some older fabs from ST Microelectronics. Looking into other applications like MEMs will enable us to extend the life span of those mature fabs.

EE Times: What does Singapore want to be a center for in the future? In the past it was the center of disk drive manufacturing, then it became a center of semiconductor fabs. What does Singapore want to be known as in 10 years?

We see Singapore as continuing to be a major electronics hub moving forward. Our vision is Singapore being a frontier for high-tech electronics, extending and pushing the frontiers of high-tech electronics.

In semiconductors, we will continue to develop our foundry industry, the fabless ecosystem and continue to develop talent in Singapore for IC design as part of that ecosystem.

A major focus in IC design for us is analog/mixed-signal design. In Singapore, we recognize that if we just talk about competing in terms of pure quantity of R&D talent, it’s hard for us to compete with some of the other Asian nations. We are just a small country of 5 million people. We want to focus on areas where it is really more quality and expertise that count. Certain parts of digital IC design tend to be, in a sense, a bit more commoditized compared to analog/mixed signal and RF design, where there is definitely a global shortage. Companies all over the world tell us that they can’t get enough of these people.

So today in Singapore, out of our pool of about 1,100 IC designers, 45 percent are experienced in analog/mixed signal design. We want to build on that. To do that, we have scholarship programs in place where we provide joint sponsorships to students to do masters and PhDs in universities in Singapore. Joint sponsorships are with companies; there are some cases where we do it 100 percent funded by the government.

We also recently set up an IC center of excellence at one of our major universities, Nanyang Technological University. The center is called Virtus, which means excellence in Latin. It’s meant to be an IC design center of excellence, focusing on analog design specifically looking at low power management. Over the next five years it will train 50 PhDs and 50 masters.

Many years ago we were known as the hard disk drive capability. There was one point when about 60 percent of hard disk drives were manufactured in Singapore. Obviously, the nature of the industry is such that things don’t stay stagnant.

At the same time, Singapore being a small company, we’ve been able to restructure. Even within the data storage market we continue to play a major role, though less so now in areas like hard disk drive assembly. But going more into components technology within the hard disk drives, today Singapore actually accounts for about 45 percent of the world’s hard disk media output.

In terms of newer areas within electronics, there are areas we are looking at like, for instance, plastic electronics, or what some people call printable electronics or flexible electronics. That will leverage to a large extent the semiconductor fabrication capabilities we have in Singapore, but going beyond that it will require a lot of materials processing capabilities as well. We have been building the building blocks for this within some of the research institutes in Singapore like the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering. They have been doing R&D and materials development as well as roll-to-roll processing. At the same time we have been successful in attracting companies to do R&D in Singapore in this space, mainly at the materials and device level. We have companies like BASF doing materials R&D. We have companies like Bosch for instance and ST Microelectronics. Bosch is doing R&D in organic photovoltaics. ST Microelectronics has their plastic electronics center of excellence in Singapore.

This industry called plastic electronics is still relatively new, probably at the same stage where the semiconductor industry was about 30 or 40 years ago. So it’s really about creating the building blocks in Singapore within the research institutes and having companies do the necessary R&D so that when this industry goes into a significant stage of commercialization, then Singapore will be ready in terms of not just doing the R&D but also high-tech manufacturing.

Traditionally electronics has been driven by computing, communications and consumer electronics. Moving forward those will still be major drivers, but I think a lot of companies are seeing that there are new verticals which are emerging. For instance in health care, energy efficiency (some people call it green electronics) and security. At the EDB we have announced that we will be developing some of these new verticals. For green electronics, that will encompass LEDs and electronics around an LED system, a lot of which is linked to analog design capabilities.

We also see more companies setting up R&D centers in Singapore to focus on things like energy efficiency, like LED driver design. In terms of energy efficiency, just last year Infineon announced they are setting up in Singapore their first application innovation center in Asia. That specifically will be developing products, both chips and system level solutions, to address the specific needs of the Asian markets. The examples that the Infineon spokesperson gave were things like electric bicycles. It’s not so much about taking things that were developed in the West and adapting that, but actually developing products in Asia for Asia. Some of these can be tweaked and sold back to the West. GE has a good example, the portable ultrasound device that was developed for the Chinese market but which has been adapted now for the West. (The GE example is not a Singapore example).

More and more medical device companies are also setting up in Singapore.

EE Times: Does Singapore see itself as competing with China for investment by technology companies?

Chan: Especially within the semiconductor space, competition is global. We don’t see any particular country as being our only major competitor. We see China from two angles. In terms of a competitor, yes, to some extent, but that is also how we see a lot of other countries. But we see opportunities in China also. Not just Singapore-based companies doing manufacturing in China, but increasingly Chinese companies are also setting up in Singapore. In the electronics space, you may think it doesn’t make sense for a Chinese company to set up manufacturing in Singapore; maybe they might set up R&D in Singapore to tap into the talent pool. But a Chinese company based in Southern China called AAC Acoustics has set up an R&D center in China and they have also announced that they will set up manufacturing in Singapore. A lot of Chinese companies are starting to think internationally. Many of these companies have been selling to global markets for a long time. A lot of these companies use Singapore as a starting point from which they can grow globally. AAC is one of them.

Analysts’ take: Samsung incites “foundry wars” with 32nm HKMG volley – Solid State Technology

Analysts’ take: Samsung incites “foundry wars” with 32nm HKMG volley – Solid State Technology.

by James Montgomery, news editor

June 14, 2010 – Samsung’s announcement that it has completed testing of its 32nm high-k/metal gate architecture, ramping to volume possibly by year’s end — and following quickly with a 28nm version — has the industry buzzing about a possible reshaping of leading-edge semiconductor foundry manufacturing.

Ana Hunter, VP foundry at Samsung Semiconductors, filled in some of the details for SST. The Samsung 32nm process is a gate-first HKMG structure based on the IBM common platform. An SoC application processor “designed for maximum testability” — the same one used by Samsung for its 45nm low-power process, for an apples-to-apples comparison — improves dynamic power reduction by 30% and leakage power by 55% (thanks to things like power gating, multi-threshold voltages, multi-channel lengths and adaptive body biasing techniques). It incorporates an ARM 1176 core, with physical core library, cells, memory compilers, etc. designed by ARM. Also included is a Synopsys IP macro, plus other Samsung-designed IP basically used to qualify the ecosystem process; Samsung also is working with EDA partners (e.g. Synopsys, Cadence, Mentor) to make sure everything works with design kits and tools that its customers already use. Everything at 32nm HKMG can be migrated to 28nm, Hunter said; design rules are shrinkable with recharacterization and timing.

Gate-first HKMG is easier to implement as a transition from a traditional poly/SION structure, Hunter explained. The construction of the gate and transistor remain the same, though the materials are different (i.e., a high-k gate oxide instead of oxynitride); a metal gate is inserted, and then poly on top of that — and the rest of the flow is “basically the same as previous generation structures,” she said. Compared with gate-last HKMG, gate-first also is “much simpler” to implement from a process migration standpoint in terms of IP implementation, and fewer restrictive design rules (gate-last requires CMP around the gate structure). Gate-first enables good logic density shrinking — “we can maintain 50% shrink from 45nm to 32nm because there’s not as many restrictive design rules,” Hunter said. This makes the process particularly good for mobile applications, as it’s cost-effective and “very good on gate leakage — >100× improvement from 45nm to 32nm.”

After early process development w/ the alliance, Samsung installed the technology in its S line in Korea (on which the company also does LSI work), completed qualification and reliability testing (wafer-level, package-level, 1000 hour stress testing) with materials manufactured on the S line, to improve yield and manufacturability, noted Hunter. Tape-out will be in the next few months. with primarily prototyping and customer sampling in 2H10, and production in early 2011 (or possibly pulled into the very end of 2010). “The process is frozen,” Hunter said; what remains is “getting yield up, getting more tools qualified, bringing up the manufacturability side of things.” She also confirmed that the 28nm HKMG version “is still on schedule to be production-ready in 1H11.” (That’s about in line with what Samsung said late in 2009, and Hunter reiterated in April in a podcast with SST‘s Debra Vogler, that 32nm/28nm HKMG was in “preparation” for volume production with tapeouts later in the year and moving “very quickly to 28nm.”)

Ana Hunter, VP foundry, Samsung Semiconductors

Why do both 32nm and 28nm; Samsung’s foundry differentiators; CPA pros/cons

Pros/cons of its HKMG process being based on the IBM Common Platform Alliance: “We develop the process jointly, provide customers the ability to multisource in different factories with competitive business models…Of course we compete for business, but we think the foundry market is a big market, growing all the time.” With another company based on the same technology, and options to do other things (e.g. additional modules, customize processes) — “having that baseline being able to source at both suppliers, working together to ensure GDS compatibility, is a major competitive advantage. There’s plenty of business out there for us both.”

What’s the strategy to compete with TSMC: “Obviously we have not been in the foundry business as long as TSMC has, and we’re nowhere near as big. Our strategy is to be very competitive in advanced technology nodes. To that end, we are very focused on achieving leadership in advanced nodes — not just development but taking it to high-volume manufacturing, because we have the financial capability to do so.”

“Getting into the business to be a second source is not our intention.”

Why strongly pursue both 32nm and 28nm HKMG: The strategy is to be “all-in at 32nm and smooth the way for 28nm,” Hunter explained. “We thought it was important to meet the needs of customers who want 32nm now, an advantage in time-to-market, then follow close with 28nm.” Planting the HKMG flag first at 32nm “makes us a leader…we think that’s important to have competitive position there, to invest in these technologies, to bring to production in high-volume fabs,” she said. And getting HKMG under its belt early and fast, and ramped to volume, is particularly important so that customers are “comfortable with manufacturability and cost savings,” especially for low-power target end-applications like mobile devices, she noted. “Having 32nm in production will help us a lot with the learning curve, making 28nm a much smoother transition,” Hunter said.

Differentiators for Samsung’s foundry business: If a customer needs help with a design, Samsung’s Hunter sees this as a differentiator: “We do that work in silicon and real products, and feed that learning back into design flows that we can provide our foundry customers.” Samsung also has ASIC services for customers who want to have backend design work done. “The line between ‘ASIC backend’ and foundry is becoming fairly gray and fuzzy; customers are more and more seeking help on the design side [which is] getting very complex,” Hunter said. “DFM built into design is something we’re experts in.”

Supporting foundry with capex. Note that Samsung’s recent capex blitz for 2010 included about $1.8B for its system LSI operations, within which the foundry business is a subset. (Hunter offered no definition as to how that’s split up — Gartner’s Dean Freeman suggested the foundry portion could be up to $1B.) Hunter did say that the new investments are “very beneficial for our foundry business,” being in advanced technology nodes and 300mm lines “where our foundry business is concentrated.” Also, Hunter noted that the $1.8B pie is only for manufacturing lines — and suggested there’s another 8T won (almost US $7B) in R&D capex budget that could be tapped as well.

Analysts’ take: Finally, a foundry horse-race!

Samsung isn’t the biggest foundry, and the question of who’s “first” with HKMG is still up for grabs — but certainly its announcement of production-ready 32nm HKMG and a 28nm version soon to follow has complicated the equation for leading-edge semiconductor manufacturing options.

TSMC has been talking about HKMG but has set its bar at what traditionally have been viewed as “half-nodes,” e.g. 40nm and 28nm, notes Joanne Itow with Semico Research. TSMC’s 40nm process offered “a slightly different formula for power and performance” — but there were some openly known yield issues that caused headaches and poor publicity, she added. Gartner’s Freeman suggested no foundry has “completely ditched” 32nm HKMG in favor of 28nm — TSMC is running an abridged version for those who want it, and GF has a 32nm offering as well, but “they don’t talk a lot about it as they are both moving to the half-node where the foundry money is.”

So which foundry will be first with 32nm/28nm HKMG, and when? Samsung says it will have 32nm HKMG ready by late 2010 or early 2011 — earlier this year it identified Xilinx as the first customer for 28nm HKMG, and Hunter told SST that “there are others” both existing and new customers (but she wouldn’t name names). Qualcomm is another leading-edge customer for Samsung, and so is Apple (Samsungfabbed a chip for the iPad); “You also might see Infineon with a device or two,” Freeman suggested. Meanwhile, GlobalFoundries will have a 32nm HKMG version ready in 4Q10, which is a MPU for AMD using an SOI process — though it’s unclear if/when a 32nm HKMG foundry process will be available. In January TSMC said Qualcomm would tape out a 28nm process in mid-2010, but wasn’t specific whether that would be HKMG or SION. Almost a year ago it said it would start ramping 28nm HKMG process (first a HP version, then LP) in 3Q/4Q10. TSMC and GF roadmaps are very similar, Freeman said, so rollouts could be separated by only a month or two.

“Due to the way roadmaps are announced it will be difficult to tell who will really be first until someone announces a customer is shipping in some sort of volume,” Freeman said.

The greater message may be that the foundry sector is finally becoming a horse race. Though TSMC will likely ramp its HKMG option first, its lead on others has notably shrunk, says Freeman. “What we have at 32nm/28nm is the real beginning of what I have been calling the foundry wars” — GlobalFoundries and the Common Platform Alliance trying to unseat TSMC, and TSMC firing back. “The differentiation will be who can provide the design service I need, Meet my capacity requirements, and hit my technology roadmap,” Freeman said.

Judging just based on research, “I believe the foundries are neck and neck — and that includes Samsung,” said Itow. For actual deliverables, TSMC would still lead the pack but with GF and Samsung right behind. “I’d compare this to a horse race that requires a photo finish to determine the winner,” she said. “And actually, there probably aren’t any losers in this race — the customers are provided more variety with lots of proven technology.” – GlobalFoundries to spend $3 billion on expansion – GlobalFoundries to spend $3 billion on expansion.

LONDON — Foundry chip maker GlobalFoundries Inc. (Sunnyvale, Calif.) has announced plans to expand its global semiconductor manufacturing operations with an additional spend of $3 billion over the next couple of years.The announcement was expected and is the latest in a series of capital expenditure expansions announced by leading foundries and memory chip makers (see Hynix raises capex, breaks with Numonyx).

GlobalFoundries’ spend will increase the size of the clean room in the wafer fab under construction in New York by about 40 percent and make GlobalFoundries Fab 1 into a gigafab by mid-2012. Globalfoundries is also spending in Singapore to increase capacity at what was Chartered Semiconductor.

The company, backed by the Abu Dhabi government through the Advanced Technology Investment Co., had previously planned to spend $2.5 billion on capex in 2010. A large portion of the additional spend is likely to come in 2011. Abu Dhabi has pledged to spend about $10 billion to build up GlobalFoundries as a world-class competitor in the foundry business.

GlobalFoundries said it plans to construct an additional wafer manufacturing facility at Fab 1 in Dresden, Germany, to increase the maximum manufacturing capacity to 80,000 wafers per month. At the same time GlobalFoundries is going to expand the clean room shell currently under construction at Fab 8 in New York to provide the option to take the site up to 60,000 wafers per month once it is fully equipped.

Fab 1 in Dresden, which is currently capable of about 30,000 wafer starts per month, had been on course to double capacity by mid-2012. Doug Grose, CEO of GlobalFoundries, said he expected the 80,000 wafer manufacturing capacity would arrive by mid- to late 2012. “The focus there is on 40-nm where we see huge demand. We’re also producing on 32-nm and we will do a bit of 28-nm production. New York is intended to focus on 28-nm production and below.”

Fab 8 is still under construction and is not expected to ship commercial wafers until the first half of 2012. As such the effect of expansion is unlikely to come into effect until late 2012 or 2013.

In addition to new expansion initiatives in Dresden and New York, GlobalFoundries is continuing with its previously announced expansion at Fab 7 in Singapore to reach an output level of 50,000 wafers per month, an increase of nearly 50 percent from current levels. During the expansion, Fab 7 will continue to focus on manufacturing technologies ranging from the 65- to 40-nm technology nodes.”How quickly we implement the capacity will depend on demand. It is high right now but if necessary we can modulate at Fab 1 and Fab 8,” said Grose. He said that manufacturing capacity utilization is running at 95 percent — essentially sold out, particularly at the leading-edge. “Nothing can be done in the short-term. If we can accelerate equipment installation or productivity throughput we will, but that won’t make a big difference this year,” said Grose.

But Grose emphasized that having a capacity roadmap as well as a technology roadmap was important to instill confidence in foundry customers.

“With this aggressive capacity build-out plan, we are well positioned to provide new and existing customers with the fastest option to get advanced products to market in the volumes they need to ensure success,” said Chia Song Hwee, chief operating officer of GlobalFoundries.

The expansion in Dresden will create Europe’s largest wafer fab and will add nearly 110,000 square feet of clean room space and taking the total to the equivalent of about eight soccer fields. The start of this expansion project at Fab 1 is subject to the approval of a state aid package by the German authorities and the European Commission.

The expansion at Fab 8, the company’s fab under construction at the Luther Forest Technology Campus in Saratoga County, New York will increase the size of the cleanroom shell by approximately 90,000 square feet, bringing the total available cleanroom space to approximately 300,000 square feet, equivalent to roughly six soccer fields